Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Bff Jo B. (4)

If I haven't already said this... Mathematical Mindsets is the best education "text" book I've ever read.  Jo Boaler, "Jo B", starts by taking you on a journey through how the brain works and what we can do as educators, parents, peers, etc.  The brain is such a complex being but the most fascinating piece was that our brain never stops changing or growing.  Inherently, we think that our "smartness" is what we are born with and we simply activate our preexisting knowledge by learning in classes.  Now if you actually think about that... it sounds ridiculous.  That's exactly what Jo points out.

Jo follows up this exploration of the brain by how the brain reacts when we are making mistakes.  I think so many of us have gotten used to knowing or finding an "easy" way out of many tasks and activities.  This has been evidently true in my learning and even my teaching.  Students are always wanting the "answers" and never interested in figuring out how to get there.  Students are TERRIFIED of making mistakes.  That is the standardized testing, cookie-cutter education that we are bringing students up in today.  Jo fights strongly to combat that, explaining that it's a total waste of time to teach and learn that way because your brain is not actually learning.

I've been politely reminded by Jo that math is an art, a beautiful art that is for the creating.  She spends a lot of time (and I won't lie... gets a little repetitive) explaining how to bring back the art and creativity of math.  Not only does she give many, many creative and realistic ideas to apply to the classroom but also apps and assessments.  This definitely one of the best books I've ever read in the field of educator education.  Not only do I plan on implementing a growth mindset into the classroom for it's overall benefit;  I also see mathematical mindsets in my students' futures.

The one awesome thing about this book is that I have been able to relate much of this discussion to what I have experienced with a few teachers, and in this class.  I find myself learning much better when the activities are "hands-on" and I'm able to try to understand it through my own mind first and then get an explanation.  As I have mentioned many, many times, I do still battle with this fixed mindset that I have had since at least high school if not before.  I wish I knew when my learning started to change but I could relate to so many of the negative thoughts and experiences that Jo expressed in the book.  Even thinking I was "good" at math because I did well on timed tests or that I didn't have to try to understand things until very high level math.

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