It might feel overwhelming to keep track of the latest education trends, jargon, and ed-tech products. But for many educators — and most MindShift readers — the topic of focus that stays top-of-mind above the chatter is learning. A look through the most popular MindShift posts this year reveals that, despite all the news about iPad rollouts and Common Core, the strongest thread of interest for our readers remains the topic of learning: student-directed learning, inquiry-based approaches to teaching, and the desire to help students learn how to learn in a changing world.
POSITIVE CONDITIONS FOR LEARNING
Adults can make a big impact on how students view their own learning process and capabilities, as described in the article Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick. Research by Stanford professor Carol Dweck has shown that students who demonstrate a “growth mindset” about their abilities fare much better than those who believe their abilities in any given area are fixed — that either they’re smart or they’re not. Educators and parents can help encourage a growth mindset by praising the effort children put into their work, not the byproduct.
“What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not,” Dweck said. “It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.” Her research also shows that girls are more susceptible to the fixed mindset than boys, especially when it comes to math. Dweck’s research asks educators and parents to think carefully about the messages they’re sending to children, even at a young age. The praise a parent gives her child between the ages of one and three affects that child’s ability to overcome challenges five years later.
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