A Nugget for STEM Learning: Switching Mindsets

Learning Objective: To be able to differentiate between the fixed and growth mindsets.

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“I’m not a math person.”

“There’s no way I could be an engineer.”

Have you (or your kids or students) ever been guilty of saying these types of phrases? Perhaps you have not said them regarding science or math, but another learning area or activity.

Meet the “fixed mindset,” FM for short, based on Carol Dweck’s research. FM is perhaps not someone you want to consider as a close friend. FM assumes the lack of potential, that because you have always performed a particular way in the past, you are guaranteed to perform that way in the future.

Being friends with FM is like being stuck yards away from the finish line of a race, convinced that you can’t reach the end, because, the reality is, you could never get there in your previous attempts.

FM’s counterpart, and with whom who it is more desirable to be around, is GM, the “growth mindset.” GM assumes you are capable of learning and improving, and that you can put in effort to make strides towards this goal.

How can you begin identify these mindsets in yourself? Take this short Mindset Test. Your own mindset can influence the children or other individuals you are around.  You can make a choice to choose the growth mindset and encourage those around you to do the same.

Next time you see a child saying they can’t do something, including STEM education, encourage them to try. Praise effort over outcome. Help them believe they can improve.

Resources

Carol Dweck: The power of believing you can improve

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