The science of learning is a relatively new discipline born of an agglomeration of fields: cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience. As with anything to do with our idiosyncratic and unpredictable species, there is still a lot of art, especially in teaching. But the science of learning can offer some surprising new perspectives.
Beliefs can make us smarter. This is an offshoot of #1. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck distinguishes two types of mindsets: the fixed mindset, or the belief that ability is fixed and unchanging, and the growth mindset, or the belief that abilities can be developed through learning and practice.
These beliefs matter because they influence how think about our own abilities, how we perceive the world around us, and how we act when faced with a challenge. The psychologist David Yeager, also of Stanford, notes that our mindset effectively creates the “psychological world” in which we live. Our beliefs, whether they’re oriented around limits or around growth, constitute one of these internal situations that either suppresses or evokes intelligence.
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