In January I took a trip to the San Francisco area to attend the Teaching Mindset Mathematics workshop with Jo Boaler and YouCubed at Stanford University. The big ideas behind Jo Boaler’s work center on the importance of fostering a growth mindset in students, and empowering all students to engage in challenging, open mathematical thinking that values struggle, depth and creative representations of ideas. Her work is rooted in neuroscience and the understanding that making mistakes, and struggling, create stronger synapses in the brain. Research was presented to support the belief that mindsets change learning, “what you believe and how you feel changes how you learn”. High achieving girls, in particular, who embrace a growth mindset are one of the demographic groups that benefits the most from the idea that everyone is a math person and everyone can grow in their ability to think and visualize and solve mathematical problems. We also learned that ideas of giftedness hurt learning, especially the learning of the typical high-achievers, and that parents’ anxiety about math affects their children’s growth in that area. The focus of Mindset Mathematics values visual, creative approaches to problem solving and number fluency in addition to symbolic representations. I was encouraged while attending this workshop because CGS students already understand the value of a growth mindset, and are learning in an environment that values collaboration, risk taking, and struggle in learning.
For more information about Jo Boaler’s work, visit: