For class this week Cindy had us watch this TedTalk by Carol Dweck and respond to it; this is the result.
For me, the power of “not yet” as a teacher of writing is incredible; students can’t fail at writing — they just haven’t gotten it yet. If they’re struggling with a certain genre or a specific project, instead of saying they don’t get it — implying that they will never get it and give up — they can just say “I don’t understand it yet.” That one little world opens a door to improvement that many students wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Dweck’s ideas of “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset” really caught my eye as well. I’m a firm believer that students learn better when they understand how they learn; if they understand the way they’re brains best receive and commit information to long term memory, that process is more likely to happen, and much faster than it would have otherwise. As Dweck says, by telling students that they learn more from a challenge than a success, that they’re more likely to grow when they struggle, to show them the statistics and the brain activity and the studies, we’re letting them know the way their brains work, and I find it’s much better to learn with something when you know how to use it.
This strategy, of course, will not work for every student — because no strategy works with every student. I would like to see Dweck expand on these ideas, and take into consideration the students who will resist and push against the “not yet,” or the students can’t seem to fully get into the growth mindset; how do we adapt this for individual students?