Getting to Yes, And

Jo Boaler: Limitless Mind


Jo Boaler

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Kelly sits down with Stanford University professor Dr. Jo Boaler about her new book, "Limitless Mind," which cites the evidence that our brains are highly adaptable and open to great change.

In our field of improvisation, we know that you can’t improvise well if you’re working out of fear. You have noted the same thing in learning along with the fact that our brains can actually change and strengthen through the learning process.

“When people are anxious, if you're anxious about math, for example, every time you see numbers your fear center lights up in the brain and it's the same fear center that lights up when we see snakes and spiders... What we now know is that every time we learn something, our brain forms new connections and either forms new pathways or strengthens or connects pathways. And our brains are constantly changing.”

How can telling our kids that they are smart be a negative thing?

“The words we use are really important for people's learning. So when we praise them with fixed words and we say things like, you're smart and you're gifted, even though that seems good, it sets people on a path of being very vulnerable and always wanting to keep that labels so they choose easy work. So, if you were to say to your kid: you're so smart, you're so smart, you're sort of imprinting something that is negative. What we know now is that when you praise your own kids and you say you're so smart, what they hear is, Oh great, I'm smart. But then when they mess up on something, which they will, everybody does, they think, Oh, I'm not so smart. And they're always evaluating themselves against this fixed idea.”

So the brain is doing better during our mistakes?

“There's more brain growth when you make a mistake than when you get work correct. And the very best times for our brains is when we are struggling, when we're finding things difficult, when we're making mistakes, that's when our brains are sort of on fire with growth."

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