PARENTS we would like to share with you some tips on how you can incorporate some problem solving and mathematical thinking into your daily routine. The Maths Week Problem Solving Philosophy is very much underpinned by the concept of a ‘growth mindset’.
Having and developing a ‘growth mindset’ about maths is a key element in succeeding at maths. The terms ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ were coined by Dr Carol Dweck to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. Everyone has a mindset or a core belief about how they learn, and the type a person has, i.e. fixed or growth, impacts on the outcomes they can have in that particular area.
A fixed mindset describes someone who believes that their level of intelligence cannot be changed. They are born with a certain limit on what they can achieve and nothing they do will change this. Somebody with a growth mindset believes that their intelligence can grow depending on the amount of effort they put in.
As adults and teachers, we must be careful about the mindset we have about maths. It is important to note at this stage that maths is not a gene that is passed down from a mother or father. A person can succeed in maths depending on the effort they put in. It is therefore important that, as adults, we are saying and doing the right things to encourage this.
Parents should think carefully about the types of praise they use when practicing maths at home. They should not always praise the child that finishes everything first or gets everything right the first time around. This implies that you must be quick and accurate in maths which is not the case. Maths is about exploring possibilities and so effort needs to be praised. Mistakes are a valuable learning experience and should be acknowledged as such.
Words/phrases that encourage a growth mindset and should be used by teachers and parents include:
How did you do that? Share your method with others
Tell me more
Are you sure?
How do you know?
Wow – that’s great – well done!
That looks like it took a lot of effort.
How many ways did you try before you found the right way?
What do you plan to do next?
Would you change anything if you had to do it again? Why?
How could you simplify the problem? How could you make it more challenging?
Words to avoid using regularly and that will encourage a fixed mindset include:
As always it is about the context in which you give praise and be conscious of the impact you are having on the other children at home when giving praise.
There are several great videos clips on YouTube about Growth Mindset:
Developing a Growth Mindset
Explaining Growth Mindset through an animation
A comparison study on growth and fixed mindsets