CHANGING YOUR MINDSET – On Learning A Subject You Don’t Like, Can’t Understand Or Think You Won’t Be Any Good At

Trying to master a subject that you don’t like can be dull and at times painful. Whether it’s maths because you think numbers are difficult, or learning code when you don’t know why you’re doing it, drama because you’re painfully shy, or being able to dance like Steve Backshall couldn’t before Strictly, when your feet won’t feel the beat – I believe there’s always a way around understanding it, and eventually even liking it.

It’s occurred to me through seeing my own children learning with different teachers, how they develop in different subjects that a lot of their understanding and fondness of a subject can depend on who is teaching it, how it’s taught and the pre-assumption of what they think they might be good at. This can create a mind-set of like or dislike. An assumption for whatever reason is reached, which needs to be changed. Here are a few tips on how to encourage Growth Mindset in kids.

We’re all different, and some of us need an alternative approach to learning a certain subject, or to use physical methods rather than just a board and being talked at, a stimulation to awaken those taste buds for learning. But most importantly believing you can do something!

Some maths can be related to by using physical items like Cuisenaire rods, and learning computing creatively by taking your own ideas and making them real, can be an inspiring experience instead of something you’d rather be watching mindlessly out of the classroom window. Learning through touch, physical activity and creative ideas can change your mind on what you like about a subject. In many cases stimulating an open mindset ready for growth.

Whether it’s a teacher that looks for more creative ways of teaching, or kids and parents for looking at alternative perspectives, there’s always a way to boost motivation allowing minds to alter their pre-set of thinking “I can’t do it”.

We’re not all maths geniuses, computer whiz kids or great artists but we all do have a way of learning and expressing ourselves – you can express yourself through what you’re learning, and it’s important to overcome the hurdle of not understanding, of believing that you won’t be able to do such a thing.

Let’s take Steve Backshall in Strictly Come Dancing for example, he’d never danced in his life, and through sheer determination and a positive mind-set he managed to stay in the competition for 9 weeks! Now that is an achievement for someone who before taking part in Strictly couldn’t dance to save his life. Well done Stevie B, we want some of what you’ve got!

If you haven’t been inspired lately then go visit Paulamusttryharder, she is an inspiration. She makes you realise that we shouldn’t just let our dreams slip away, or to give up because we think we can’t do it – it’s all in the mindset right! Paula has set herself a list of challenges, things that she has always wanted to try. Some are probably a tad out of reach, but hey how do you really know whether you can do something until you’ve tried? And I mean tried properly!

Changing your mind-set is of upmost importance especially when it comes to believing in your ability. Such little comments can change a young learners’ mind-set, for example telling someone they’re amazing at something (when they’re not always amazing, which could make them fear for not being able to live up to that again), or on the reverse being told they’re not good at something (which in turn tells you not to bother, what’s the point anyway).

So where does that leave us? Being honest in a motivating manner, if you’re a parent or teacher. “You might not have been good enough to win this time but you can learn from it and work on that for next time”. Leaving the door open to the possibility of growth and improvement. Changing a fixed mind-set to a growth mind-set.

If you believe you can’t do something, try not to get into a negative mind-set, get stuck into your challenge, get help to overcome it, be open minded and give it a try. For an extra boost, and revision practise with maths try our bitesize video lessons at Stuck on Homework and exercise a healthy mind-set.


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