95. How do I learn new things?

I was with a fifth grader and we were doing some fluency reading at school. One minute timer and he just had to read as much as the passage as he could.

He kept insisting that he wasn’t good at reading.

But he read just fine–the only problem was that when he came to hard words, he would sigh and say something like, “I’m not good at this,” or, “This is hard.” He was taking a lot of time in reinforcing his bad attitude.

I wouldn’t let my daughter say she wasn’t good at math or she didn’t like it. Math is math, and you can’t really hate it–because it’s the one non-subjective subject that is founded on basic logic. There is no nuance in learning the right answers. You just learn it, step by step, and the only problems come when you skip steps.

The other day, I asked her what subject she liked. And she, a little sheepishly, admitted that she liked math. Memorizing multiplication tables was not her favorite thing, but she was liking doing things like decimals and long division.

Attitude means so much in learning. If you think you can’t learn something, you never will. If you think you are bad at something, you waste so much mental energy that could be spent learning and growing.

Having the right attitude opens up your mind and makes it receptive to learning new things. It’s sort half of learning–just believing you can learn.

I wish we would never label kids as struggling, or give them grades that tell them they can’t do something well. Just because they aren’t on the same level as someone else their own age does not mean they can’t become good at something. If we help to instill belief in themselves, that they can learn and grow, then they have such a bigger chance of succeeding.

1 comment

  1. Guilty as charged. Don’t know how many times I’ve thought and said I just can’t learn Spanish. I’ve really struggled, but a better attitude would surely have made some difference. Being excited to learn and not worrying about making mistakes is where real learning takes place. Pero esta bien.

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