Mathematics Mindset in Year 6

Year 6 have just experienced a series of lessons that have focussed on developing a Growth Mindset in mathematics.

The work of Professor Carol Dweck bridges developmental psychology and personality psychology and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behaviour.

Professor Jo Boaler from Stanford University has continued this research and applied the foundations directly to mathematics instruction. Over the week, we worked side by side with students to develop their conceptual understanding of connected mathematical ideas and it has been really interesting teaching the students a little about how their brains work at processing mathematics. 

We began the week with lessons developed by Jo Boaler. We aimed to explore and be inspired by mathematics. There is a range of evidence that suggests that students typically decide to opt-in or opt-out of mathematics in the middle years (5-8). This may have been your experience at school, where the productive struggle of solving complex mathematics may have seemed too much of a challenge and progress was slow. Some students bring negative views and misconceptions about this subject, and it is important to address these misconceptions as they continue through school. 

One aim was to change students’ language (particularly their internal ‘mindset voice’) so that they believe they should keep going even when work is hard, and when they make mistakes. Indeed we encourage the students to explore and make mistakes as this is what brings together the connections between ideas.

So, ask your children about number patterns in Pascal’s triangle, the 4-Fours challenge or how they exercised their skills in collaboration and critical thinking. These were challenging and fun collaborative tasks and we believe mathematics should be open, creative and visual. We hope they take away some new beliefs that benefit them throughout their education in all aspects.  

If you would like to read more about the importance of mindset and other messages from brain science, please explore the many resources available on Professor Boaler’s website

Daniel Zavone – Director of STEAM
Stephanie Cairns – Coordinator of Literacy K-12

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