Thursday, March 19, 2015

What happened to the growth mindset?

I recently watched my son play Minecraft for the first time.  He picked up my iPad which has Minecraft on it so I can let students at school play from time to time.  Honestly, I have not played Minecraft much and was thinking to myself I would not able to explain to him how to play.  But that was okay because he did not need my help.  He simply started playing.  He moved his character around and when he encountered trouble or difficulty, he tried different tools - one after another.  It was fascinating to watch my 5 year-old son be so cognitively engaged, be a problem-solver, and be a critical thinker.

I then watched my 7 year-old daughter attempt to put together her new Lego set she received from her birthday.  She followed the steps exactly as they were printed. After 80+ steps, she had finished her building and her car and began to play with both of them.  Inevitably, not soon after completing the Lego construction, the car fell off the table and broke into several pieces.  She was devastated and even asked "How am I going to rebuild this?"

When my oldest daughter was younger, she often faced adversity the way my 5 year-old currently does.  Even for a first born child, who can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, she tried different ways to solve a problem.  But something has happened the last two years.  Is it our approach as parents? Have we led her down a dangerous path of the fixed mindset?  Have we not exposed her to enough of a growth mindset?  Is it something at school?  Is the crunch of competition and the desire to always be right in class creating this mindset?  I don't know what caused her from being a problem-solver who embraced a challenge to now being a child who wants it done the right way.

I know I can help all of my children see the powers of grit, endurance, perseverance, and battling through challenging situations.  I need to allow them to see me make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and not always be correct.  I need to celebrate the process of learning and not just the end product.  I need to be a model of learning for them all.

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