As you know, I’m planning to set up makerspaces in our elementary school library next year. As I’ve pondered the open-ended exploration of makerspaces, I’ve thought about our students, who are increasingly forced to think inside bubbles with their number two pencils. Have you seen an increasing number of students who say “I can’t” before they’ve even started? What a contrast that is to the kindergarten students who raise their hand before you’ve even finished asking the question!
There’s been a lot of talk in the education world about the growth mindset, and I think that it’s an essential component of any makerspace. The original book that started the discussion is Mindset, by Carol Dweck. (There’s a book for educators called Aim to Grow Your Brain: The Secret Mindset of Underachieving Students & Five Steps to Inspiring Greater Effort, by Joanne Billingsley. And there’s a picture book to share with students, called Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, by JoAnn Deak, Ph. D.)
In essence, the growth mindset believes that a person’s intelligence can change and grow. This is a contrast to the fixed mindset which believes that a person is either born smart or not. The students with a fixed mindset are often the ones who refuse to try, because they fear failure, fear that you will see that they aren’t smart. This mindset has a profound effect on a student’s performance in school.
No matter how many wonderful supplies I buy or spaces I create, I believe that our makerspaces will only be successful if I address the mindset of our students. They must believe that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. That is in integral part of the creative process!
I’ll start with one small step: Adding one of these quotes to library signs and bookmarks and every paper I hand out.
If you are intrigued by this idea, you can learn more from my colleague’s blog, Engage Their Minds. Is the fixed mindset a challenge for your students?