Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 19 2013

#78: Reflections on Stanford’s EDUC115N “How to Learn Math” – Part 1

For those of you who would like to participate, I posted about a MOOC offered by Stanford called “How to Learn Math” for which you can still register.

This course is my introduction to MOOCs, so I’m at once enjoying the content and the presentation of it as well. I don’t think this substitutes for flesh and blood classroom experiences, but as a supplement it’s hard to complain. The sessions generally alternate between short video lecture from Dr. Boaler and short reflections on what was just presented. Sometimes those reflections are to be peer reviewed. Not a formal assessment, just feedback.

I manage to sneak in time in the mornings before my wife and son wake up, so I’m inching my way forward. I’ve just reached the “Mistakes and Persistence” section which opens with the rather provocative idea “Making mistakes is the most useful thing to be doing.” More on that when I get through the session.

What I just completed was the section titled “Maths and Mindset.” Oddly enough, I remember a lot of this from Institute. See, Institute is not all bad, just criminally short! Basically, she talks about the research behind students and teachers who have fixed mindsets (math and intelligence are gifts, you either have it or you don’t) and growth mindsets (everyone can learn if they work at something). She does a good job of laying out how girls and students of color are the victims of fixed mindsets since they are bombarded with social cues of their supposed mathematical inferiority.

I’m trying to think how I can cultivate this growth mindset from the beginning of the year. How do I present this information in a way that students who believe their math skills to be permanent to believe that, oh, I can still do this stuff? That’s a tough sell for high schoolers.

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