Stretching Your Brain

Yesterday, I posted about my mistake of praising my daughter for her innate intelligence.

I found an article that discusses this very thing online this morning. It’s from Sal Khan, the founder of the popular online learning site, Khan Academy.

He talks about how scientists who study learning have found that there are two mindsets about learning. One mindset believes that learning is dependent on your intelligence. Whether or not you do well academically depends on your genetics and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

Other people believe that with discipline, focus, and tenacity, you can grow and become more capable and intelligent.

These scientists found that people who believed in a fixed mindset–where you are either good at school or you are not–tended to avoid things that would cause them to struggle. This avoidance of struggle limited their learning.

Others who believed that you can grow in learning were more likely to step out and try something new and difficult. They were able to grow in their intelligence.

The brain is a muscle that can grow if it is pushed. However, developing the character to try hard, fail, and keep going is crucial to reaching your full potential.

Here’s a quote from the article:

“Researchers have known for some time that the brain is like a muscle; that the more you use it, the more it grows. They’ve found that neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.

What this means is that our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.”

This may be a hard thing for high-achieving, perfectionistic kids to learn. But as homeschoolers, we have to sometimes push our kids to allow their brains to grow through their struggles.

If you have a kid who melts down when they get problems wrong on their math papers, you may want to share some of the research about brain growth with them. Perhaps they will then start to see their struggles as a good thing.

 

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