Tag Archives: Mindset

Mathematical Mindsets – course responses. Unit 1.⤴


Why are schools keen to label children as smart or gifted?


My intiial reaction is that I have no idea. Maybe using gifted allows SMT to ask class teachers what their plan is for ‘stretching’ some children. I feel this is used as a counter balance to the question of what teachers do to support less able children in lessons. This differentiation battle has been ongoing for a while and is not in line with the AiFL which I have studied when reading the Shirley Clarke books.


So what is a belief message you can give to students when you’re talking to them about their work?


You have to give them the belief that they will get there eventually. I remind them that I have failed at many things but I have always managed to get the hand of something if it mattered enough to me. I also discuss with the class why I am asking them questions – not because I don’t know the answer, but because I want to know if a certain person knows an answer but more importantly how that person works something out.


The evidence that those with a “growth” mindset have more brain activity than those with a fixed mindset is pretty amazing – and important. What does it make you think about? Is there something you may do or say differently because of this evidence?


It reminds me that as well as telling my class that we learn stuff which is hard, because it grows our brains, I must remind them that they will find it hard and that they will get there in the end.


How can you help parents with math anxiety?


I think several approaches/actions are required here leading to an understanding of why they are anxious.


Firstly you can share links to video clips, reading matters, research, courses etc showing how growth mindset works and how this links into mathematical understanding.


Secondly you need to remind them of that time in maths that they felt terrible because they couldn’t answer a question in a certain time limit. Ask them how that shaped their feelings towards maths as a subject. Discuss with them the way maths is taught at university where depth and understanding matter more than time limits.


Share with them some of the rich learning tasks from youcubed and ask them what they think someone is learning when the are working on these tasks. During this model maths talk with them too and explain how this cements learning.


Discuss my own feelings towards maths and how they changed when someone took the time to explain how maths worked to me in a way in which I could understand it.


From all of this, ask them how well they feel maths was taught to them. If they feel the teaching they received was not the best, this can be linked to their anxiety. It’s not their fault, a lot of it is the way things were in the past in maths teaching.


What were the main ideas you heard from the interview with Carol Dweck that you think can be helpful in your teaching or interactions with students?


Growth mindset is telling the children that they can develop abilities.

Struggle is good but needs some support.

Be ‘casual’ about mistakes whilst offering to help the student get it right and scaffolding their answers.

Some people are unclear what a fixed and growth mindset are.


What are you most excited to learn from this course?


New ideas for use in class.

How I can support children who struggle the most with their maths.

Things to say to other teachers, SMT and observers in my classroom when they question what I am doing and why I don’t have maths groups.


What ideas do you think were most helpful for the students in the video? What impacted them most?


The idea that getting things wrong in maths is OK and that finishing first does not mean the best. Also, the idea that only struggling through maths develops the brain. Immediate recall and pages of correct does not grow the brain.



One of the questions in my Mathematical Mindsets MOOC was about gifted children and our labelling of people as gifted.

Since the mid 00’s there has been a requirement to highlight ‘gifted and talented’ children in classes in the schools I have taught in England and Scotland, but on reflection, this flies in the face of a ‘growth mindset’ approach to education.

Here is how I answered the question What do you think the “gifted” label does to young children and their teachers?

If we start by thinking of a gift, we might think of something which is given to us without our needing to do anything to recieve it. i.e. You get your birthday gift, but we didn’t really contribute a lot to being born…

To a child who believes themselves to be gifted, this might mean that they feel they don’t have to work hard, as they have been given something extra which others don’t have. It might mean that when they come across something they can’t do they feel they ‘don’t have the gift’ in this so it’s not worth trying.

Children hearing others described as having a gift are likely to see that child’s work in a subject as unrelated to effort. Therefore there is no point in that child trying that little bit harder, as they are not gifted. However hard they try, they are not going to get to be good enough.

Teachers who believe in, or label children as gifted (as well as discouraging many children) may not see the point in putting efforts in to certain groups or children. I remember my Y3 team leader in my first year of teaching explaining that if I hadn’t given children the chance to do something, then they certainly would not be able to do it. They may also be inclined to put children into groupings for subjects from which they can never escape, as they are never given the opportunity to do the same work as ‘the other group’.

Closing the mindset gap!⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

HOW DO WE INCREASE THE ATTAINMENT AND CONFIDENCE OF OUR LEARNERS ACROSS SCOTLAND? While there is no overall magic bullet, I believe that by creating a growth mindset culture within our schools; we can do much to improve children’s attainment and mental health. Let’s focus on the issue of closing the attainment gap. The link […]

A Project Based Learning Opportunity for UK Teachers⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

Pedagoo has teamed up with Dreamdo to offer an exciting opportunity to UK teachers. We’re recruiting teachers and their classes to talk part in a project-based learning pilot using Dreamdo’s fantastic resources. What is Dreamdo all about? I’ll let them explain: Dreamdo Schools is a biannual program that helps school classes all over the world […]

Learning by Mistake⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

Learning by Mistake Over the last few months I’ve become enthused by Carol Dweck’s work on the concept of a growth mindset. As a result of this I decided that it was time to make much better use of students’ learning mistakes in my classroom. Typically most students tend to not want to dwell on […]

The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us⤴

from @ Laurie O'Donnell


I recently attended a discussion on Dan Pink’s wonderful book Drive hosted by Dundee Business School and the Deming Learning Network. It reminded me that I posted a few years ago on the great RSA animation that summarises this book

If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare to watch the RSA animation then Dan Pink’s 140 character Twitter summary will give you a flavour:

Carrots and sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st Century work we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Pink’s basic argument is that we live in an age where the tricks that were (and continue to be) used to motivate people to undertake routine tasks have limited efficacy and scope. They also are counterproductive when it comes to complex, non-routine work requiring initiative, creativity, vision and ethics. In the world of business people are all too often ‘compensated’ for their time, awarded  bonuses for meeting short-term performance targets (usually at the expense of any long-term success) and micromanaged on the basis that their judgement can’t be trusted. A model where employees are extrinsically motivated  ’resources’ rather than self-directed intrinsically motivated human beings.

Most schools and education systems are even worse than businesses as attainment targets narrow the focus of what counts as success.  It is as if we have learned nothing from the last 50 years of research into how to promote deep learning. As Dan Pink would argue we are still using the old carrots and sticks operating system of Motivation 2.0.

The ‘Motivation 3.0 approach that Pink argues for draws on research from across the social sciences. Over the years I have picked up some of the same influences, the positive psychology of Martin Seligman, for example, taught me that pessimism is the human being’s default setting and that you have to learn how to stay optimistic. Mihaly Csikszenthimhalyi concept of flow gave me insight into the conditions for optimal performance at work and play. Carol Dweck’s insights around mindset helped me to understand the psychological barriers to learning new things and the danger of having a fixed  perception of being either good or bad at anything

The body of evidence to support this new way of looking at the world is growing and for Pink takes the form an ‘operating system’ for a better way of living and working.  I am not all surprised by Pink’s argument. What really surprises me is that in 2013 his ideas, and the research that underpins them, have not already achieved the status of  common practice and good sense.

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