“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
― Isaac Asimov
In considering my response to the video David re-flagged for us this week, and revising the reflections regarding the same video already shared by Brendon, I find myself grappling with the lessons from Sivers’ work both for me as a teacher and for my students. Am I might be over-thinking this again!?!
It did, however, get me thinking about assumptions and how my view of the world really is coloured and shaped by those assumptions. Perhaps, as suggested within the narrative of the video, the most concerning of those assumptions are about myself, my capabilities, or lack there of. In this sense, are my assumptions in effect barriers then of my own creation? If I have these assumptions, would not then my student have them too? Perhaps they see the world, as I do, through ‘assumption-coloured’ lens, placing limits on what they believe they are capable of based of their own sets of assumptions about who they are.
Tell me, does an image of such a student suddenly spring to mind for you too? But there is not just one is there! The more you begin to think, the more student you recall. Those cherubs in whom you could and can see such great things, such amazing potential, yet they could not or cannot see it for themselves. But I am not talking about confidence or self-esteem, though I am sure there is some correlation. I am talking about the limitations we place on ourselves, often from such an early age. Where do these assumptions comes from? Do we learn them, or are they innate to the human condition?
In my what seems to be my never-ending search for answers these days, I came across this video and I thought I would share it. Perhaps because it provided me with some insight into how, as teacher, we many be unintentionally helping to create these limitations in the mindsets of our students but also because perhaps we are also the solution.
As parents, teacher and educators of all denominations and manifestations, I think there is much we can take away from both the words of Derek Siver and James Nottingham. Perhaps we need to focus less on being the best, and more on the progress. Focus less on the result and more on what happens next! In the words of Nottingham –
“Progress is so much closer to learning than who’s got the top score!”
Towards the end of his TED presentation, James Nottingham makes brief reference to the work of Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is the author of Mindset and is a lecturer in the Psychology Department at Stanford University. I was introduced to the work of Carol Dweck through a MOOC course I did earlier this year in ‘Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms‘. And perhaps her work in developing ‘growth and fixed mindset’ in our children provides yet another tool through which we as teachers might better look to better equip our students for the future and seek to challenge their assumptions about themselves and the world around them.
The basic premise of this work is that a fixed mindset approaches learning with the belief that it should come naturally. A growth mindset on the other hand sees equates learning to effort and working hard is key.
The distinguishing feature of geniuses is their passion and dedication to their craft, and particularly, the way in which they identify, confront, and take pains to remedy their weaknesses (Good, Rattan, & Dweck, 2008 as cited in Developing Growth Mindset, n.d.).
Dweck also cautions that we should, therefore, be careful in how we praise students. Rewarding the effort, rather than focusing on the the achievement – which echos the words of James Nottingham. Granted this is a highly simplistic account of Dweck’s work, but I have included a link to a PDF document which explains a little more about fixed and growth mindset, if you are interested.
So once again, I have found myself strolled up the garden path. Not sure if I have answered David’s question but at the same time making the decision to try and not hold back – striving to live the ‘growth mindset’ dream! Perhaps here in lies the lesson – try to assume nothing about yourself or other, and expect that everything you do is taking you one step further out of your comfort zone which, in effect, is wiping clean that window, so a little light can come in!
East Stroudsberg University. (n.d.). Developing Growth Mindset. Retrieved, August, 29, 2014, from https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www4.esu.edu/academics/enrichment_learning/documents/pdf/developing_growth_mindset.pdf&sa=U&ei=TjIAVISiHpeTuAT-p4KYCQ&ved=0CAUQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNGPDJHxvEIddL7y7C7BkTh5uxC-TA
Image by: Krzysztof Urbanowicz
Image by: zen Sutherland