Growth Mindset in Mathematics

Across our school teachers have been talking with students about growth mindset rather than fixed mindset

Educators now know that thinking and struggling mathematically has a profound effect on the growing brain. Recent research indicates that something amazing happens – that when students make a mistake in maths, their brain grows, synapses fire, and connections are made. On the other hand when they do the work correctly, there is no brain growth.

Professor Jo Boaler from Standford University says that these finding mean that we want students to make mistakes in maths lesson. She says that students should not view mistakes as learning failures but as learning achievements. Students do not, as many assume, need to revisit a mistake and correct it to experience brain growth, although that is always helpful for automaticity and fluency. When students struggle with mathematics, their brains grow; being outside their comfort zone is an extremely important place to be.

When teachers provide challenges that are just beyond the reach of the student, it is to provide this place of productive struggle. Teachers may also leave a teaching point until the following day, because leaving the students with the question unanswered provides a point of reflection outside the maths lesson and a point of curiosity for the next stage of teaching.

So, rather than ask your child ‘what did you learn today?’ can you ask instead; ‘how many mistakes did you make in your maths lesson today?’ And let’s celebrate the intellectual struggle!

For further information, go to:

Stephanie Burton

Numeracy Coach