Last week, I spent a couple of hours watching the above playlist from Jo Boaler’s fantastic online course “How to Learn Math”. In it, she speaks much about the foundational importance of Growth Mindset for becoming a mathematician. It’s the latest of many other articles, videos, and books I’ve been sampling due to their importance in my current work as a curriculum consultant in my board.
I’m a big fan of Jo Boaler’s ideas. I love the way she blends research and theory about learning dispositions with practical tools and strategies for implementing them. I also find her delivery exudes authenticity and wisdom, which is important to me. I was astonished that I was able to maintain engagement to watch all the videos considering most of them consisted of one person speaking directly into a camera.
There’s something I want to go deeper with, however, especially after thinking about Alex Quigley‘s provocative critique of the framework. Even though it’s a fantastic start to juxtapose fixed and growth mindsets in order to stress the dangers of the former and the power of the latter, I’m wondering if growth mindset is less like this:
And more like this:
I’ll use myself as an example.
When it comes to my work as a pedagogue and leader, I feel a strong growth mindset has driven almost all of the countless intrinsic rewards I’ve attained in my still progressing professional life. I’ve rarely met a pedagogical problem I didn’t ecstatically pursue the solution for. As a father, too, I always look at myself as a work in progress, wanting to learn more, reflect perpetually, and do it in partnership with my beloved wife. But, who knows, perhaps even I will experience my own times of stagnation or regression, where I have difficulty moving my own proverbial needle.
On the other hand, there’s swimming. I have this thing about swimming. I’m really bad at it, and my family constantly berates me for my hypocrisy in refusing to take simple steps to improve.
There’s also my own father. He and I don’t have the greatest relationship on earth. Our lines of communication have always been like a drive home on Toronto’s 401 on the worst snow storm of the year. I’ll admit that I need to approach our relationship with more resilience and grit.
I have not researched my stuff. Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler, great people like that have. I love their ideas, but now I want to go deeper. I want to swim in the deep, murky waters of nuance when it comes to growth mindset. Maybe I need some lessons.