The Importance of a Growth Mindset in Math
Growth Mindsets in Math are important for student learning.
Our youngest students are often very excited about learning math. But then something happens. I believe that a students diminishing excitement for math is directly related to a lack of a growth mindset.
What is a Growth Mindset?
A Growth Mindset is a philosophy promoted by Dr. Carol Dweck. With a growth mindset, we each have the ability to achieve success beyond our innate abilities. We also have the option to move forward in the face of adversity, and become successful in our own right.
When it comes to math, there is no such thing as a ‘math person’. This is because a person’s true potential is always unknown, or unknowable.
But often, in school, we become focussed on getting the ‘correct’ answers, as fast as we can. This leads to students having fixed mindsets about their abilities in math.
In math, we want students to NOT feel shame that there are deficiencies – this is why we learn! We all have the capacity to learn through our efforts – AND through deliberate practice.
We also want students to understand that it is the process of learning that is important – not just the final product.
No matter where you are in your learning, you can always develop yourself further.
Parents can go a long way to promote Growth Mindsets at home, Here’s How:
- Avoid assuming that you are, or are not, a ‘math’ person. This can promote a fixed mindset in your child.
- Have fun with math: Play math games, puzzles, cook and bake together!
- Avoid praising speed when it comes to math
- When a child gets an answer incorrect, instead focus on the process (logic), not the final answer (product) – try to find out what went wrong!
- Praise your child’s ‘thinking’ rather than telling them how ‘smart’ they are. This helps students to understand that challenge is okay. Thinking that they are ‘smart’ can put pressure on them to think that struggling with math is a bad thing.