16 Comments

    • George

      Are you more likely to learn if you create something with information? I think that is the big question driving this post.

      Reading the Atlantic article now…

      • Chad

        To answer your question, no, you are not more likely to learn if you create something with information. You are more likely to learn something by connecting with prior knowledge and having to think about what you want to learn. Getting students to create could be an option, but it wouldn’t be the only option, or necessarily a better option. It depends what they are creating.

        That is why just reading a textbook is useless for studying. Instead, a person could make cue cards, ask themselves questions or connect to their prior knowledge and that would increase their learning substantially.

        Back to your example about the fur trade. Despite learning it, they couldn’t recall anything, because it has been years since they have learned it. If they created something instead in school, about the fur trade, you would still run into the same scenario. It doesn’t matter how knowledge gets stored into long term memory as long as it does.

        • George

          Even in your example, you are at least creating something with your knowledge. But is the creation meaningful?

          I think that if you made a video on the fur trade or even wrote a book on the topic, it is not only about retention, but depth of knowledge increases.

          • Chad

            If we wanted students to know certain aspects about the fur trade, I could as a teacher, ask them questions and that knowledge would get into their long term memory. In this example they really haven’t created anything. It doesn’t have to be created at all for people to store things in long term memory. It also doesn’t matter at all if it is meaningful.

            A few things you want to be careful about with your video example. Let’s say students make an IMovie about it. A fair amount of student’s time would be devoted to editing the movie and it wouldn’t be related to the fur trade at all. If the students thought more about IMovie than the fur trade they likely wouldn’t learn very much about the fur trade. Instead they would know more about IMovie.

  1. I love the illustrations you use to show the shirt from fixed mindset to growth mindset to innovator’s mindset. I agree with you–if students create something meaningful to them that truly allows them to share (aka teach) what they know, absolutely they will remember it. They will not only remember it, but personalize it and extend it. The process of reflecting on their learning to create something to represent it, and then the process of explaining that to other, will indeed lead to deep, long-term learning.

  2. I think the word YET is important as part of the learning process. I agree that we need to go beyond our current definitions of “I learned it” to “I did something with my knowledge”. I think Chad’s comments above talk about the value of reflection in the learning process. Like you, I use my blog as a way to reflect and process my own thoughts.

    A quote from Chad’s first reference says, “Naturally, knowledge sticks if it’s revisited”. How we revisit knowledge can be up to the learner (especially when the teacher has the innovator’s mindset and is cultivating that in her/his students), but the revisiting is about doing something more than memorizing information for a test (or other teacher-driven assignment).

    Thanks for making me think this morning!

  3. Thanks for the post! The Growth vs Fixed Mindset idea really doesn’t address how deeply you eventually learn something or if you actually use it or apply it – it’s simply illustrating a difference in attitude towards your own abilities.

    So I don’t see the Innovator’s Mindset working as a third option – maybe if you said “I don’t know this concept [or what I’m going to DO with it] YET.” It could be another layer on top of the Growth Mindset. An innovator mindset definitely needs a growth mindset – believing you can get better, not a ‘you’ve got it or you don’t’ fixed mindset. Could you have an innovator’s mindset if you believed your talents were fixed and you couldn’t change them? I don’t think so…

    BUT ANYWAY! I absolutely agree with you that knowing facts, knowing information…is not at all the same thing as using it or applying it, and that the latter is preferable…and that school and formal education should do MORE of the latter whenever possible. I answer your question YES.

  4. The culture of education today does not always value not yet and making mistakes in learning. All it takes is one teacher investing a bit of time in a conversation on growth mindset for students to begin to see learning differently. I recently wrote about this in my blog post. https://jill4learning.com/2016/09/10/i-like-making-mistakes-blog365-day-10/

    I have also made a point of telling my son that every time he makes a mistake he is building structures and pathways in his brain, essentially growing his mind. Even if he doesn’t know he is making a mistake the act of working through challenges has the same impact. Every time he struggles and gets frustrated with an assignment or even in game playing I remind him of this and tell him each correct answer is a missed opportunity for learning. Will he remember the knowledge he spouted off quickly or the struggles from interacting with content? It has made a huge difference in his perception of learning and his confidence. It has almost become a mantra in our house.

    “You’re growing your brain. You’re growing your brain.”

  5. Aileen Swenson

    Hey George,
    Don’t leave out the MN and ND educators who teach the fur trade as part of our states’ histories! 🙂

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