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In the last issue, I explored two child development and early learning milestones which provide an opportunity to nurture a growth mindset in early learners. In the following article I will explore two more: inquiry and school readiness.
III. Inquiry (Wonders and Questions)
As children interact with their environment, they are continuously engaged in inquiry, construction of knowledge, and theory building. The process of theory building itself is a very growth mindset oriented process in that it is "full of error, conflict, and contradiction" (Chaille, 2003). There is a natural connection between children as theory builders and children as having a growth mindset. A child's favorite question "Why?" is an indicator of their strong desire to construct knowledge and build theories. In other words, it is evidence of their strong desire to "grow" their knowledge and intelligence (GM).
Within this GM opportunity, we can nurture a child's GM by (a) encouraging their wonder and questions and (b) facilitating opportunities for them to construct knowledge and build theories through the inquiry process:
1. Active observation and interaction with the environment (wonder)
2. Question asking
3. Investigation and experimentation
4. Development of conclusions
In the following article I present four child development and early learning milestones across the developmental continuum that provide authentic opportunities to nurture a growth mindset in early learners. In this first issue I will discuss the first two examples: learning to walk and a child's expression of independence (self-efficacy and agency). In the next issue I will elaborate on the third and fourth examples: inquiry (a child's questions and wonders) and school readiness.
Thanks to advances in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience we have an abundance of scientifically based research on learning and the brain. One of the areas of research with significant implications for teaching and learning is neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, the idea that the brain is malleable and thus changes from learning is central to Carol Dweck's research and work on student achievement and success. She is responsible for developing the terms: growth mindset and fixed mindset (Dweck 2006).