Making the Grade: Developing students’ mindsets to be successful
Intuitively, we all know that one way to get more kids focused on their learning is to create and nurture student brainpower. Studies have clearly shown that students who have a teacher who encourages positive and engaged learning experience will score better on standardized tests and develop more strongly in reading and math. But recent news stories suggest that America is losing a potentially lucrative competition for children. A recent Gallup survey found that the U.S. educational system is getting worse, and many parents are questioning the quality of American education.
It isn’t just at home where teachers are struggling. According to the OECD’s PISA test, the U.S. fell to 12th place in 2014, just a two-point jump over its 2012 ranking. America’s neighbors China and Japan rank as the top two countries in PISA. France, Norway, Sweden, and Finland dominate the list of top performing nations.
How could U.S. students be losing to our competitors and without other top-performing nations leading the way? Schools in other countries focus on teaching to student mindsets, so that kids are aware of their own talents and abilities, are actively motivated to learn, have a positive attitude and feel supported by their teachers. The experts agree: the onus is on schools to not only teach learning skills, but also to develop students’ mindsets and skills.
In short, developing positive mindsets about education is like eating healthy: you have to be conscious of where the food you eat comes from. Schools don’t have to make every school breakfast free, but they can still show support for families by providing their lunches at a fair price. Schools can’t compete with universities in education technology, but they can invest in ongoing training programs for teachers. And schools can also promote teacher involvement in education reforms, mentor teachers, and make interventions to help struggling teachers.
We have already seen a shift in the way the Obama administration and Congress are thinking about school reform. Last year, the Department of Education funded 11 more early childhood and K-12 learning centers and brokered a $4.3 billion Career and Technical Education Act.
And last week in Fairfax, Virginia, President Obama, as part of his National Center for STEM Education Summit, spoke about the importance of teaching students values in STEM classes. He focused on how students need a broad knowledge base to be successful.
“Math, science, and technology are woven into every part of our economy,” the President said. “These critical subjects are where the jobs are. And if we’re going to make sure our next generation of workers are prepared for the future, we have to ensure that every American child has the chance to learn to do what they’re passionate about—to learn the subjects they’re passionate about, and the skills they need.”
The time is now for schools to tap into resources that support students’ development of a brain that is hyper-innovative and curious. With better-trained teachers and more teachers learning the subjects they teach, it would be difficult to criticize the subject.
To learn more about how to develop student mindsets and engage students’ full potential, please visit EdTech United: www.edtechunited.org/