Mind Over Math - Believing It Makes It So

By Andrea Karim on 15 February 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 2 comments

There are many, many web sites that are devoted to helping you find actvities for your kids that boost their brain power. Turns out that there is another great way to help your kids improve their grades and keep their brains active and growing - it's simply matter of mind... over matter.

From NPR.org:

A new study in the scientific journal Child Development shows that if you teach students that their intelligence can grow and increase, they do better in school.... "Some students start thinking of their intelligence as something fixed, as carved in stone," Dweck says. "They worry about, 'Do I have enough? Don't I have enough?'" Dweck calls this a "fixed mindset" of intelligence. "Other children think intelligence is something you can develop your whole life," she says. "You can learn. You can stretch. You can keep mastering new things."

A scientific study tracked 7th grade students whose math grades were suffering. One group of students was provided with a mini-neuroscience class, and taught that intelligence is not a fixed thing, but rather something that can grow and develop over time. The other group were simply given lessons on how to "study well".

The students who believed that "the brain actually forms new connections every time you learn something new, and that over time, this makes you smarter" showed a marked improvement in their math skills.

"If you think about a child who's coping with an especially challenging task, I don't think there's anything better in the world than that child hearing from a parent or from a teacher the words, 'You'll get there.' And that, I think, is the spirit of what this is about."

To think, all these parents spending hundreds of dollars on Baby Einstein videos to show to tiny toddlers, and all they had to do was repeat "You'll get smarter, little buddy. You'll get smarter every day."

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Andrea Karim's picture

Well, how about "You won't always be this stupid, Jimmy. Your brain will keep growing."?