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Living and learning with the genius mindset may sound like a lofty ambition for most. This is partly because we once believed that our intelligence was fixed and that being super-smart was an experience reserved for only a privileged few. Although the specter of this outdated belief still lingers in our subconscious, we know better now. We know that intelligence is something we can grow and shape anytime in life and that the genius mindset can indeed be cultivated within all of us. Our learners stand to benefit greatly from exploring these new frontiers in their own capacities for building their brainpower.
R. Buckminster Fuller reminded us that, "Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them."
It's true that there are many different criteria that we can use to pinpoint what actually makes someone a genius. It's also a matter of opinion for many. For example, many people consider Banksy to be a genius, but you'd have a hard time convincing anyone in the scientific community of such a viewpoint. That's because he is classified as a completely different kind of genius than he would be if he were a person of science.
Another example is Shakespeare. The Bard is widely considered one of the greatest literary geniuses to have ever lived, although George Bernard Shaw—another genius in his own right—would passionately (if not violently) disagree. The truth is we all have our own idea of who or what personifies the genius mindset. That's what makes Zacc Dukowitz's TeachThought article 5 Strategies For Creating A Genius Mindset In Students so worth considering.
How to Develop the Genius Mindset
In his article, Zacc talks about 5 methods teachers can employ to help learners discover their own natural genius and adopt the genius mindset in the way that naturally fosters their own inherent talents and abilities. The key, he says, is in the word "mindset" itself—that is to say, the beliefs one holds about oneself and their capacity to achieve and to excel:
"Crucial opportunities for the application of good mindset habits occur in the classroom every day. Students who aren’t encouraged to change their fundamental beliefs about their own abilities may never progress in subject areas that they don’t already feel inclined toward. And students who are—well, they may, in fact, be better positioned to become the next Einstein."
Obviously, creating another Einstein isn't a guarantee! What Zacc is saying here is that cultivating the genius mindset opens up the learner to the personal growth possibilities that having such a mindset presents—cognitively, emotionally, and more. When we nurture this mindset as teachers, the more ingrained and beneficial it becomes to the learner.
In addition to a summary of each of Zacc's 5 points, we've also provided links to valuable instructional resources that can help you with using that strategy with any of your learners in the best possible way.
1. Change Your Own Mindset
Taking a different view of your learners can free you both up to explore the ultimate potential of the mind. It's why we strive to see past the fixed mindset and move into the growth mindset. A helpful resource to use for conversation and exploration is this Fixed vs. Growth Mindset infographic.
2. Change the Emphasis
This means a shift to a focus on beneficial process as opposed to a focus on obtaining correct answers. "If students are learning and following the correct process," claims Zacc, "then they will eventually also produce the correct answers." Planning and potential come together when you explore how you can create your best lessons on Wabisabi.
3. Value Mistakes
It was Einstein himself who advocated the making of mistakes in any process of meaningful discovery. Mistakes are an inherent part of both life and learning, and our children must be encouraged to see them as necessary steps in their pathways inside and outside of the classroom. Understanding Solution Fluency as a problem-solving practice can help with this. Try exploring the Solution Fluency Quickstart Skills Guide or the Solution Fluency Teacher's Companion to help your learners understand the value of this process.
4. Encourage Perseverance
Hard work always pays off, and we must encourage our students never to give up because things get difficult. We won't always see the results we want in the initial stages. Zacc suggests modeling the many steps it takes to master a concept or skill by walking students through the process and emphasizing the value of the work itself over a fixation on the outcome. Guides like the Critical Thinking Workbook and the Critical Thinking Teacher's Companion are all about the process and the journey of thinking, discovering, and growing.
5. Praise The Process, Not The Person
It's easy sometimes to draw attention to students who seem to excel at certain topics in class. A better approach is to focus on explaining the process those students follow to achieve their results or having them explain it. An understanding of a person's process, rather than simply focusing on their achievement, can help struggling students adopt that process or create one of their own to make their learning infinitely more successful and enjoyable. You can use the Essential Fluency Snapshot for clues on how to approach giving your students learning processes that can also be assessed with the same tool.
Read the full article 5 Strategies For Creating A Genius Mindset In Students on TeachThought.