Planting the Seeds for a “Growth Mindset”

By 2nd Grade at The Cathedral School, students are not simply learning math, they are learning to “think like mathematicians.” How is this happening? Because from the first few weeks of Kindergarten and continuing through 1st and 2nd Grade, they are nurtured to develop a “growth mindset.”

The Growth Mindset Unit, or “The Week of Inspirational Math” as it is known in 2nd Grade, occurs within the first few weeks of school. The week-long theme is an opportunity for faculty to use math as a metaphor to illustrate that learning and problem-solving are a journey, rather than a destination. 

The materials, math challenges, games, activities, number sense routines, and discussions may vary in each grade level but the fundamental principle is reinforced–that having a growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset) makes for a happier, more resilient student and person of the world.

“We reinforce the growth mindset message at the beginning of the year so that the concepts and vocabulary can become the anchor for the rest of the year in all subject areas,” explained Yojairy Sands, Lower School Dean and K-2 Math Specialist. “There is math everywhere. It is both visual and beautiful. It’s much more than numbers, and crunching numbers, and solving problems. It’s much bigger than that.”

Though math is used as a central theme for the week, the lessons are much br
oader. Students learn that challenges help to “grow the brain” and the goal is to persevere, even when accomplishment seems elusive. Beginning in their very first days of school, Cathedral’s youngest learners are introduced to several key messages:
  • Your Brain is Like a Muscle
  • The Magic of Mistakes
  • The Incredible Power of Yet (It’s not that you can’t do something, it’s that you can’t do it yet.)
  • The Mysterious World of Neurons (Challenges grow your brain.)
  • Putting It All Together (Cultivating a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset)
From Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, the seeds are planted, watered, and nurtured so that the growth mindset can permeate their Cathedral education. They are also internalizing a powerful new vocabulary and perspective that they can use in approaching their own work and the work of their peers to foster a passion for learning for the rest of their lives.
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