I have been asked lately about how to teach a growth mindset to learners who understand the act of learning to be limited to memorization. How do those learners see intelligence as malleable when they are defining learning as rote memorization?
Again, I will return to the definition of learning that Katz and Dack use “Any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a direct result of experience.” (Intentional Interruptions, 2012, p. 14) I don’t know about you, but much of what I memorized all through school (and believe me there was a lot…most of which I can now simply Google), I have long forgotten – thus, I don’t believe that I actually learned it. However, when I try to align the definition of growth mindset (from Mary Cay Ricci, 2013, “a belief system that suggests that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning” pg 3) with the notion that in some cases we are asking students to memorize (in Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy Remembering is the lowest level of thinking), I wonder if growth mindset can actually exist within the notion of remembering… my question is, if persisting, effort and a focus on learning contribute to a growth mindset, can students grow their brains by memorizing?
Memorization requires students to persist and to put forth effort (to exercise grit), however if there is actually no application of that content, then I suggest that there is no real learning happening, and thus, if learning is absent, then students are simply in compliance mode. Their understanding of learning is reduced to the notion that they can “learn” if they can memorize. Time and effort is spent on this piece. Don’t misunderstand, there is a place for memorization in learning as students need to have some content ideas to move to the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but when learning is measured by memorization and tests only, I would argue that there is no opportunity for a growth mindset to develop.
Are you inspired to engage in growth mindset work? Here are some resources to consider:
larryferlazzo.edublogs.org has an extensive collection of mindset resources. Have a look!
Dave recently passed on the following as well:
Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cay Ricci
Stay tuned for next week when we will unpack the following graphic….