Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

Facts or Faith

It is faith that moves mountains, not facts. Facts do not give birth to faith. Faith needs a story to sustain it – a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas do indeed offer what you promised. Genuine influence goes deeper than getting people to do what you want them to do. It means people pick up where you left off because they believe.

Annette Simmons

I found this quote in a book I am reading and as I have thought about it quite a bit over the past week I believe it has implications for all us in the cohorts as we move forward with our culminating projects. I have more questions than answers, as usual and here are some thoughts as a result.

Do we begin to look at professional learning as a leap of faith for those who resist pedagogical changes in classrooms especially if it involves the use of technology? In the above quote a this stands out for me  – a meaningful story that inspires belief that our ideas do indeed offer what is promised.

How often when professional learning is offered is it presented as a how to, not a why to? Would having a story to tell around the why be helpful? Incorporating our story of the tool, our story of our own changes as a result of use, and our students, help to instill faith – influence people enough to believe what we are asking is worth a try?

We want them to pick up where we leave off, do we need to change our approach to incorporate meaningful stories to inspire belief?

Image Source: Flickr user kodomut

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Thoughts on Mindset

I recently read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset and want to share some key points and also get your views.
For those of you who are not familiar, Carol Dweck has a Ph.D. from Yale University, is a professor at Stanford University and a social psychologist. Her book and her work centers around theories of intelligence.  Fixed mindset and growth mindset, nature vs nurture.

In the first few pages of the book she discusses her own beliefs as she started her career in psychology. Prior to her research she believed human qualities were innate, carved in stone. Children are born “gifted”, have “natural talents”, one was smart or they were not, and failure meant you were not smart, it was that simple. This is the description of a “fixed” mindset: a belief in nature, the way you are born is the way you will always be.  Believing your qualities are set in stone, creates an urgency to prove yourself, over and over. When we praise children as being smart or brilliant, we boost their their sense of self and they like it, we all do, and don’t want to loose it.  In so doing, we don’t offer reasons why we believe they are smart, just that they are. Those with fixed mindsets begin to evaluate situations based upon whether they will look smart, whether they will be deemed a winner or a looser, and this may instill a sense of insecurity.  They feel they have to continue to prove they are smart. If they come across something that doesn’t come naturally to them, what happens? Avoidance of the situation, being uncomfortable knowing they may not appear smart.

Growth mindset emphasizes nurture, emphasis is placed on effort and hard work, not simply praised for being smart but why someone thinks they are smart. They are praised for time spent learning something of interest to them, praised for the questions they asked as they were digging deepre, the process they used in tracking down information or constructing something physical.  Those with growth mindset know how to create the outcome they are striving for, challenges are viewed as a good thing, because they feel confident through their perseverance and hard work, they have the ability to succeed, and they believe this about themselves. They enjoy learning, figuring out the answers, asking more questions, because they are not viewing situations as win or lose.

Is it important for adults to understand their own mindset and how it may influence our interactions with others, whether this is at home, in the work place? Whichever mindset you have, isn’t this the lens through which you view all others, all situations?  Can we change our mindsets, would you want to?

I really enjoyed this book, it has given me a lot to think about.

Gaping VoidAmazing

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Limits We Set

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about inhibition, what inhibits people from speaking up, sharing what they think, and why, especially in writing.  I find it somewhat ironic in respect to what we ask of students in our classrooms and I would venture to guess of our own children. We encourage them to voice their opinions, not to be a follower, stand up for themselves, take a risk, go out on a limb to contribute in life and in their classes. Yet, when we are asked to do the same with our colleagues we freeze, opt out, find a reason we have nothing worth contributing or say others have already said what we were thinking so we have nothing to add.  In essence we don’t do a good job of modeling what we ask of others.

Inhibitions are self- imposed, internal limits we set, why do we do it?
Why do we limit ourselves, what drives our reluctance to speak, act, and share? I know inhibitions are our defense against criticism; we don’t want to give others the opportunity to disagree, but why? Our inhibitions limit our thinking and without thinking we become stagnant, complacent. Aren’t our thoughts and ideas worth the risk, don’t we grow and gain confidence in who we are and what we believe through our interactions?  As Chris Lehmann has said “what is the worst consequence of your best idea?” Is it that someone will disagree and you will have to defend your thoughts, what is wrong with that? Through challenge and reflection we have the opportunity to examine what we hold dear, and through those same conversations we may be swayed to look at something from a different perspective, which may cause us to change our thinking, learning together, again what is so bad about that?
We give our students grades for participation, how we would grade ourselves?  Isn’t it time we begin to let go of our internal limits, begin talking, sharing ideas, and understand through ongoing dialogue we develop and are more apt to become the people we truly want to be? I know I am ready.

Flickr Source Melanie Milliken

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