24 Learning: May 2015

24 Learning

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mindset Chapter 3 Reflection

Chapter 3 "The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment.

In this chapter Carol Dweck talks (amongst other things) about the low effort syndrome. Students whos primary goal at school is to exert as little effort as possible. I interacted last week with a student in exactly this mindest. He had a choice of activities and had selected the one which he believed required the least effort. It held no interest to him at all and he really had exerted little effort in attempting to meet the criteria for the assignment. I asked him why he bothered at all and his answer was that he just wanted to get that task ticked of his requirements. If he was lucky one of the teachers who was checking would let him away with it. (He wasn't lucky cause of me).

Carol asks the question, "Is everyone capable of great things with the right mindset?" She gives several examples that back up her answer... With the right mindset and the right teaching people are capable of a lot more than we think. 

This is a really important message for teachers.... in fact so important I am going to paste it again... bigger...

With the right mindset and the right teaching people are capable of a lot more than we think. 

I really do wonder how often I have accepted much less of myself than I am capable of and as a teacher how often have I accepted much less of the learners in my care than they are capable of. Much more often than I care to admit.

Think of times when other people outdid you and you just assumed they were smarter or more talented. Now consider the idea that they just used better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked their way through obstacles. You can do that too, if you want to.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In chapter two Carol Dweck talks about the effort leading to success that a growth mindset encourages. She also highlights the big risks of both high and low effort.

For people with a fixed mindset the fear of trying and failing can be paralyzing. If you go to do something but you don't really try hard, you were not really prepared, if you didn't work as hard as you could have and you don't win... you have an excuse. Nothing is harder than saying, "I gave it my all and it wasn't good enough". For people with a fixed mindset this fear of failure can prevent them trying in the first place.

I can still remember a moment I experienced early in my teacher training.
As part of a communication course the lecturers had a selection of books on display for us to browse during the breaks. I picked up Susan Jeffers book "Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway". Class started at that moment and I didn't get time to read any more than the cover but I still remember the impact it had on me. At various times since that feeling has come back to me as I have faced moments where I was afraid to give something a try. By acknowledging to myself that I am afraid and then reminding myself that I am not going to let fear stop me from trying I have been able to experience some great challenges that I know I would not have attempted otherwise.

Susan Jeffers outlines Five Truths about Fear including...

The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There is no point in saying, "When I am no longer afraid, then I will do it." You'll be waiting for a long time. The fear is part of the package.

Carol also talks about the big risk of low effort...

In the growth mindset, it's almost inconceivable to want something badly, to think you have a chance to achieve it, and then do nothing about it. When it happens the "I could have been" is heartbreaking not comforting.

(Mindset, Carol Dweck. p.44)

Reading this reminded me of a quote from Charles Dickens that I wrote out on a scroll and had stuck on the wall above my desk for a number of years.

“Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.”

(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
I find those words a challenge to my apathy at times. 
I was also interested in Carol's discussion of the idea that we can have a fixed mindset about certain aspects of our lives while still maintaining a growth mindset about other aspects of who we are. 

What things in your life do you have a fixed mindset about?

(Toilet paper should always roll out from the wall, never down the wall)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NZ Flag - Great activity to get children thinking about design

Campbell Live this evening has had a story focusing on the NZ flag debate. 88% of respondents to their survey do not want a change to the flag. This is up from 84% answering the same question in February. I am sure the margin of error on this sort of survey will be big but those numbers are not insignificant.

I'm not sure where I sit on this issue. Part of me agrees with Ian Mune...

Ian Mune, Director, Writer, Actor

"Why a flag? To run up the mast, to drape over a coffin, to unfurl in the breeze, to gather around, to say "This is us." So who are we? According to our current flag, a bunch of poms in the South Pacific. We stand by Australia like two kids going to school, our flags almost identical, and both looking backwards, still acknowledging our parents. We're grown-ups now. Let's buy our own clothes. And if we want the stars, we better get in quick or the Aussies will pinch it." 


... and part of me agrees with the 88% support shown by John Campbell's survey respondents. I get both sides of this debate. The desire for change based around identity and the desire to hold on to and cherish the memories of historical moments celebrated under our current flag. The issue is way deeper than a  weighing up of the pros and cons because there is so much emotion involved. I wonder if the next debate will be about changing the national anthem?

I would love to hear your opinion. Do you favour a change? Why? Why not? What do your children think?

I was thinking about this being a genuine learning opportunity for our children to be involved in.
So... if anyone is interested here are a few resources that might be useful as inspiration.

The TED talk below is a really interesting summary about what makes for a good flag design and some of the common mistakes designers make. The talk is mostly about city flags but it has some good flag design rules that apply to country, city or actually any flag design. It is also just a really different presentation style and worth watching for that reason.

NZFlag.com has a whole lot of great resources for teachers. This is a must visit site if you want to run a "design a flag" activity with your class.


This next one is the government site asking for feedback. This is where children genuinely can have a say.

What do you stand for?

The NZ History page has some great background on the flag debate.


The ones below are various other sites that have some useful resources to support your discussions.

Quirky alternatives


Google Image Search NZ Flag

If you do decide to do this as an activity send me links to any cool designs your classes come up with and I will post the link for others to share.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mindset - Carol Dweck

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to hear Carol Dweck and  Guy Claxton speaking in Christchurch.

I have started reading Carol's book and thought I would blog my reflections and questions from what I am reading.

On page 8 and 9 Carol outlines two different responses to some bad things happening in the day of a young adult... a bad test grade, a parking ticket and a brush off from a friend. She talks about the responses people have to these sort of experiences not as pessimistic vs optimistic but as fixed vs growth mindset responses. 
As I was reading this I looked up at the card pinned on the wall at home..

Carol goes on to say that a growth mindset isn't just about risk taking and effort but that an understanding of fixed and growth mindsets will help us identify thoughts, actions and beliefs that lead us to success. 

Towards the end of chapter one Carol says "exceptional people seem to have a special talent for converting life's setbacks into future successes".  I feel really privileged to be part of a school where I see so many people with this attitude. We have faced a few setbacks in Christchurch in the last few years but now really is the time to start building our own future.

Back to Blogging

Clearly I am not a dedicated blogger. The last post was August 2011. Phew quite a lot has happened in the intervening years. For those of you not in the loop this is the 30 second run down on why I stopped blogging...

Big earthquake
Bit of a clean up required - Life got quite busy.
Another earthquake - more cleanup
Became Acting Principal
School merger proposal - fought that for a bit
School merge
Rāwhiti School

The long version would take a novel which I'm not ready to write just at the moment.

But.... Here we are 2015... The school merger has happened. Rāwhiti School is underway and we are looking positively to a year of challenge. There are so many things in front of us as a staff that it is sometimes hard to decide the priorities. I have been so impressed with how brilliantly our staff have all got on with the job of making Rāwhiti School great even amongst all the challenges we face. There is such an atmosphere of good will and positive problem solving it is brilliant. As I move around the two bases I am constantly impressed with the brilliant relationships that staff have with the children and with each other. I can see already that Rāwhiti School is going to be great.

So... This leads me to why I have decided to start blogging again after all this time.

1. It is a quiet Sunday morning and I was mucking around online and floated to my blog.
2. We are encouraging staff to learn new things and to get connected online and blogs are one way to do that. (Better lead by example I think)
3. My blog has always been a space for me to reflect on stuff I have been thinking about. I thought I would start it up again to post my reflection on some of the learning I am doing this year.

So there it is. Mostly this is for me. I welcome comments though cause I learn so much more from conversation with others than just from my own reading and reflecting.