Beyond Knowing

Recently at a workshop, one of amazing educators in the room talked about the shift in language from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset”. She made this distinction:

Fixed Mindset → “I don’t know.”
Growth Mindset → “I don’t know…yet.”

This belief in your ability to learn is crucial not only for our students, but also for our educators. Common sense will tell you that believing you can learn is a great first step to being able to learn.

But when does, “I don’t know…yet.”, become, “I don’t know anymore”?

For example…Today I asked a group of Canadian educators if they have ever learned about the fur trade in school. As this is an extremely Canadian thing to teach, I know that the answer was going to be 100%. Then I followed up with, “Unless you teach it currently, what can you tell me about it (other than Hudson Bay is mentioned somehow)?”

Nobody could answer.

Something we all learned, yet no one can remember.

So building upon the earlier prompt, what happens when we shift from fixed, to growth, to “innovator’s mindset”?

Fixed Mindset → “I don’t know.”
Growth Mindset → “I don’t know…yet.”
Innovator’s Mindset → “This is what I have created with what I know.”

Does our depth of knowledge not become substantially greater when we take our knowledge and create something with it? Is it also not more likely to go beyond the immediacy of when we our asked to know something?

Personally, I do not speak about things until I blog about them as I know that I will have a better understanding when I take time to make my own personal reflections and connections to content.

I love this thought on learning from “The Center for Accelerated Learning”:

Learning is Creation, Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self. Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.

As Thomas Friedman states, “The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).” Let’s ensure we are going beyond just “knowing” with ourselves and our students.

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