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Why metacognition might be the most important lesson I teach…

September 30, 2011

Got this email today from a student I taught last year (now a sophomore):

Hi Mr. Burk,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for teaching growth mindset last year and warning against misery poker. I have found that there have been times this year where I have been tempted to play misery poker and play the “how hard is my life” game and your teaching of how useless and unnecessary those sentiments are have helped me to dispel those feelings and kick on. I sincerely hope that you continue to teach that.

I hope that you are enjoying your new physics classes and that Maddie is doing well.

And this from a student I taught two years ago (now a junior):

I hope you’ve been having a great year so far! I want you to know that what you taught me freshman year has really stuck with me. When I answered a question in my Running Through History application about my most valuable course experience at Westminster, I talked about your class, how I learned to understand instead of memorize, and was inspired to “change the world” as you always said. Mr. T suggested I tell you, so here I am to thank you for it!

I also wanted to share an interesting article with you that my Dad gave me. Here’s the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?pagewanted=all

So if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to take out a whole day to talk about Growth Mindset, Grades, or Misery Poker, I say yes.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Doherty permalink
    October 2, 2011 9:04 am

    Good for you John! When I was a young teacher I foolishly thought that the measure of success was if I ran into a student years later who might remember something about trig or an interesting calculus problem. Now, I value the conversations I have with former students who talk about thinking and about being challenged to see things a different way. You should be proud of these comments.

  2. Jim Doherty permalink
    October 2, 2011 9:13 am

    Another quick comment here John. I read this New York piece years ago and clipped it out. I have spoken about it with kids but, for some reason, was not clever enough to think of assigning it to them to read on their own. Years ago, our department chair team (at a past school), read Dweck’s Mindset book and it was valuable but dense at times. This is a tremendous distillation of these key ideas. Thanks for pushing me, I posted the link to the New York piece on my calculus class wiki this morning.

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