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Getting Into a Growth Mindset

With the school year in full swing for everyone, kindergarten students up through doctoral students, I wanted to take an opportunity to talk about preparing to learn.  The Harvard Business Review has outlined some really great advantages to cultivating a growth mindset, but how we get there is a whole other thing.

I think that cultivating a growth mindset, at it’s most ideal, starts in childhood. As a very young child, I remember my mom saying, “If you can read you can cook.” This was sometimes said to me in exasperation as I skimmed through an ingredient list and instructions before completely botching a recipe, but usually, it was a positive reminder that if you can read you can do anything.  Reading has brought about a number of positive learning experiences, including reading history to learn from and appreciate from the experiences of others.

Apart from reading, there are some practical things that I think can be helpful in getting into a learning or growth mindset regardless of your age.

  • Make sure your physical needs are taken care of. Do you feel comfortable in your skin? Are you fed and hydrated?
  • I realize the irony of saying this but dedicate time in your day to be away from screens.
  • If you’re in a class that is measured in credit hours, know that you should be taking two hours a week outside of class per credit. So if you’re enrolled in a 4 credit class, take 8 hours a week outside of class.
  • Find a note-taking system that works for you. Of all the ones I’ve tried, Cornell notes keep me engaged in reading and help me go back and review effectively.

I would encourage you to engage in the first two suggestions, even when you’re not a student. Remember that you can learn, even when you’re not in the classroom.

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