How do we teach?
- Are we teaching about immediate gratification where learners become obsessed with grades and getting As?
- Are we teaching learners how to cram for a test or how to dream big dreams?
- Are we teaching the need for constant validation throughout learners lives?
Are learners gripped in the tyranny of now instead of luxuriating in the power of yet?
If so, then how do we overcome this all consuming tyranny of now? How do we help learners realize the power of what is yet to come by developing a the growth mindset, the idea that abilities can be developed? How do we create a learning environment where teachers and learners are deeply engaged?
First of all, we can praise wisely, not praising intelligence or talent. That has failed. Don’t do that anymore. But praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement. This process praise creates kids who are hardy and resilient.
There are other ways to reward yet. We recently teamed up with game scientists from the University of Washington to create a new online math game that rewarded yet. In this game, students were rewarded for effort, strategy and progress. The usual math game rewards you for getting answers right right now,but this game rewarded process. And we got more effort, more strategies, more engagement over longer periods of time, and more perseverance when they hit really, really hard problems.
Just the words “yet” or “not yet,” we’re finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. And we can actually change students’ mindsets. In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter.