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Interpreting Carol Dweck's Motivation Questionairre

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mature_maths_trainee, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Barry Hymers work links closely to Dweck's. He explores his idea of
    'generative transformational giftedness.'
    This is basically the idea that any child can be gifted if they are nurtured in the right way (I think). It grows out of his work teaching philosophy for kids to difficult kids.
  2. This is based on a classic misconception that children are born with exactly the same capacity for intelligence - a bit like the 'empty jar' principle.
    They're not.
    All too often these theories don't manage to grasp the realities of child education, and try and boil things down into generalisations and preconceptions that simply don't apply. There are too many variables in too many different environments and situations that as teachers we have to adapt to. You cannot enter mainstream teaching with one core philosophy and try to apply it to every lesson. It will not work.
  3. I wonder if we're missing a trick here. What if Dweck's work ('attribution theory'? - what a learner attributes success to?) is right and we teachers act and teach as if ability is fixed ("they're gifted", "they're thick", etc.)? This will encourage learners to label themselves and often avoid failure by not engaging - being defensive, like the post said somewhere above. This will ruin their education.
    So we have to act as though ability can develop - not that all children can be gifted (that label again) but that all children can make progress. This means not labelling children at all and encouraging effort - because that is what it will take to understand new things.
    If we don't take notice of work like Dweck's we risk repeating the failures of the past - producing yet another generation of whinging teachers who blame children, and vice versa.
  4. There are, of course, many perspectives on what intelligence is scentless_apprentice.
    By coining the term giftedness, Hymer is is looking specifically at the ways in which students generate new thinking/abilities. It's certainly not about passing exams.
    Hymer's writing style is ethnographic - which means he describes specific case studies in detail, trying to recognise to the best of his ability his own influence on both the situation and his perception of it (in fact his whole PhD is ethnographic, which is unusual and interesting). What that means is that he is not trying to prescribe for other people in other places - he is trying to create a realistic representation of something interesting which happened so the reader can pick and chose the aspects of it they find relevant to them and their context.
    I find always find work of this type interesting, provided I can find the time to read it! It's kind of like teachers TV when they show a great idea for teaching and the teachers describes what they're doing and why. Even if its not relevent to you at the minute it's still interesting to watch.
    We've had so much top down lecturing on 'how we should do things' it's easy to get defensive. But it's important to recognise the difference between what we've been getting and the opportunity to interact with high quality ethnographic material from which we can pick and choose what we please.

  5. Pleny of teacher already get tis stillrollingalong, even if they've never heard of Dweck. Far more have got it in the past.
    But round here these teacher have been systematically wiped out of the system by heads who have cleared them out to bring in young staff who teach entirely to the exam with huge energy and by the need to teach in ways which Ofsted can easily grade without talking to the teacher or understanding what's going on.
  6. Dweck didn't actually find an unambiguous correlation between success and the approved attribution theory ("success is down to my own efforts"). What she did find was that, in artifically constructed situations, the approved attribution theory children showed more tenacity.

    It's not easy to know how to interpret these results. Tenacity is only a good thing if appropriately applied. Then not everyone should be encouraged to take mathematics, or any subject for that matter, further than GCSE.

  7. Excellent point.
    In what proportion of classroom environments is tenacity valued?
    In what porportion does tenacity = bad behaviour?
  8. This is all very wonderful, but I ask you this:
    What is the point?
    Really. Where does this get you? I'm as open to new concepts as the next man (honestly) - but what applications in teaching do Dweck's theories have?
    Get rid of the jargon, take it down to an applicable level, and I'll be interested.
    Frankly, achieving success by developing intelligence boils down to the fact that it has to be worked on. Potential is all well and good but the environment and the relationships have to be right to do so.
    You cannot just take a child and say 'be gifted' - there has to be the capacity to achieve it (how do we assess that); there has to be the drive to do it (wanting it is not enough, but the motivation to do the steps to achieve it; and there has to be the right guidance to do so.
    I am all for every student achieving their fullest potential, but the simple fact of the matter is that as classroom teachers we simply do not have the ability to overcome all of the social, economic and conceptual obstacles that we face in trying to achieve that goal. There has to be a collaboration between the teacher, the parent, the child and their social environment (people and place) in order to get anywhere. If that's not in place, then you'll continue to find that students will get left behind, and not at the fault of their teachers.
    I did a paper on 'Social Influences on Motivation in Mathematics' based on a school in Greater Manchester - I found that despite every effort and every new concept and approach taken by the teaching staff in the school, it didn't matter one jot, because the greater social environment saw Mathematics as unimportant. If that's the situation, then how can we get students to their goal of 'being gifted' if there are pre-conceived, almost pre-programmed negative ideas in students' minds about Mathematics?
    No matter how we challenged these received perceptions as Mathematics teachers, sometimes it will not work - and unfortunately, we have to accept that.
  9. scentless_apprentice
    spot on
    google is lovely isnt it
    I just get lost in the plethora of words a lexicographer would struggle with when reading your posts. Im sure many more don't respond as the simply cannot decipher what you are actually advocating. Could you just put it in Laymans please?
    For me it boils down to one thing.
    You get Teacher A
    Love subject/Teaches their heart outr/cares for the kids/expects everything, gives everything/teachers for a full lesson/pushes more and more work on the kids
    Then there is Teacher B
    Wishy washy, SEAL loving, fashion chaser who doesnt really ever get much maths out of kids. Jusitifes their lack of work through allowing pupils to 'explore and express' and be holistic learners.
    I just can't help thinking if more are pushed dow the teacher B route then we will end up a third world country in terms of the level of academic knowledge/skills we produce in 10/20/50 yers
  10. Scentless_apprentics, this is very interesting.
    Could you list for me the efforts and approaches taken by the staff which created a climate which nurtured and celebrated giftedness?
    By giftedness I mean students working with creativity and originality above or beyond the taught curriculum.
  11. Could you tell me which bit you'd like me to explain?
    I don't find it particularly helpful to categorise teachers. I'm into just accepting teachers as they are and, if they're in a position where they're looking to be more than they currently are, suggesting some examples of things they might like to take bits from.
    I prefer to use ethnographic examples and by that I mean detailed lesson or topic studies with video tape and commentary by the teacher. Then the teachers should reflect on what they already do which is relevant to the example being considered and whether they would like to adopt any apsects of what they see in the example.
    I'm not saying - all teachers should do such and such or be of a certain type. I just think it's natural for teachers to continue to develop and add more 'strings to their bows' as their careers progress.
  12. Me
    I appreacite you went on to explain this on but I find often I have no idea what the bottom lesson message is.
    Anyway, I true believe on developing teachers. I am with you on that, couldnt agree more but I believe we differ in direction.
    I want to educate pupils in maths, raise attainment and get on with solid teaching where I can push mathematical thinking.
    I seem to find many of those in teacher training or Ofsted are driven more towards avoiding teaching subjects and making fluffy teachers to justify poor behaviour management, having to be politically correct and falling standards
    If mathematics teaching is evolving why are we chucking out GCSE papers that half decent pupils could do by the end of year 8/9?
  13. If you look at the POSs Betamale you could say the objectives fall into two categories.
    Some relate to students acquiring the core curriculum - that is learning and becoming fluent in the mathematical processes and vocabulary which have been agreed and written down by others.
    The other relate to students 'connecting up' their mathematical knowledge - they are learning how to mathematise the world for themselves. The are working on extended problems and contextualised problems. They are often working with originality and significant indendence when they are working in this way.
    Would you agree that this split exists?
    If I said I think you are the kind of teacher who want to ensure your students are doing the first reliably and effectively before introducing a bit of the second would that be fair?
  14. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Weebecka I noticed you use a lot of jargon and allude to other sources. Usually it is done to obfuscate matters for no reason other than to obfuscate. Usually, but not always.
    To cut a long story short I decided to download anything by Carol Dweck, and some of the things she says are quite interesting.
    Have you actually done some research on this, and if so, any chance that we could have a look at it?
    I did try and see if I could find any research papers that you had published as being a member of staff at MMU, but you don't seem to be on their staff list.
  15. I'm certainly one of these people. This come from a core priniciple of mine of that whilst students may be able to discover the mathematical concepts in the world, they do not have the language or cognitive capacity to communicate them in formal mathematical ways. Thus their ideas become subjective and 'wooly' rather than objective and concrete.
    That said, if we give them the language and the cognitive structures in the first place, then we can build the links in their mind between the classroom and the outside environment, and thus make their understanding concrete.
    A good analogy is football.
    Putting a poor player in a good team will not make that player better. They will not automatically develop the skills needed to be a quality footballer purely through being 'in the game' and gaining the concepts of control, anticipation, passing and flair In fact, it will probably make the team as a whole worse, and destroy that player's confidence.
    Instead, through coaching and training and some initial experience of the game as they're going through the development process, then the player will gain the fundamental concepts needed in the game and have the confidence to use them.
    It's simple, if the basic concepts - arithmetic in the case of Mathematics - are correct, then the applications will be right. If you try and develop Mathematical ideas purely through experience in context, then there's a huge capacity for error and poor foundations in even the most basic of principles.
    An objective philosophy like Mathematics cannot rely on subjective ideas for success.
  16. Hello Karvol,
    I don't use jargon to pull the wool over people's eyes. I use it when other language doesn't clearly express what I'm trying to say. I also use it because it comes naturally to me from my international and philosophical work.
    If people probe something in particular I'm always happy to try and explain or give real life examples.
    I've never researched on Carol Dweck - as I said we had INSET on her provided by Barry Hymer. If you haven't done so already it's quite nice to watch a youtube of Carol by the way.
    Thanks for that reminder - I need to log in and do my staff list profile. I've only been there a year and haven't published with this team. My main articles on maths education have been in MT (and before that MicroMath). I've written as Rebecca Hanson and Rebecca Teasdale. You could look, for example, at MT210 and MT211.

  17. Scentless_Apprentice that's really clearly expressed.
    So you feel that the heart of a mathematics education should be about the acquisition of the fundamental axioms of mathematics and that is students acquire these they will then be able to mathematise the world.
    You believe that mathematics is an objective philosophy. It exists, out there in the world. The rules of mathematics are fixed and unchanging. We learn them, we use them, that's it?
    Is that a fair reflection of what you think Scentless_Apprentice?
    If so could you tell me a bit about your experiences of working with students on rich and extended investigations (or any work where they've had plenty of opportunity and encouragement to go beyond the syllabus) - have you found that they way students have learned through these activities has backed up your view?

    What about Betamale?
  18. Im not sure what POSs are although may know them under a different name.
    Essentially what you have said is correct and I will summarise:
    Maths should be taught in terms of content AND process/context. We sit in the same corner there.
    Now where I oppose your views is the shift towards the latter when there is no solid skills in numeracy being built.
    I cannot do 'rich tasks' anywhwre close to what I would call interesting or challenging as a result of poor numeracy and simple understanding of maths, much of which comes from poor primary education, much of which you are advocating, along with all the other factors.
    Pupils should only explore maths, be cross curric and do all that 'fluffy' stuff WHEN and only WHEN they are fluent in basic operations and mental/written maths.
    I also strongly disagree with the maths room being a fairground of group work/exploring/sharing and doing f'all work yet 'find themselves'
    If you want those skills, fine waste the time in lifeskills, tutor time but please, get the pupils numeracy sorted before this is pushed on to trainee teachers.
    Watching new PGCE students is painful as they walk into tough schools with their bag of big dice and A4 size playing cards only to actually do 5 minutes of pure maths and get eaten alive by idiotic children.
    I am still teaching numeracy to my year 10 C/D border kids....why?
    So yes, I like rich and functional stuff WHEN pupils are equipped to do it and not at the expense of real mathematical learning. you have 20-22 hours to do fluffy cack somewhere else in the time table
  19. Scentless_Apprentice and Betamale thank you so much for your posts.
    POS = Program of study and I'm talking about the national 2007/8 versions.
    Now it won't surprise either of you to know that I'm in a rather different place to you two on what I believe maths education should be and it's clear that to you that seems to be a murky, hazy, dangerous place that just doesn't make sense?
    I'm glad you see it that way because if you thought you knew my views exactly you would, I'm sure, be wrong. It's easier to explain if I start from where you are and explain why I'm no longer there and where I went.
    I'm not doing this because I'm trying to convert you or prove you wrong or anything like that. Heaven forbid! Just so that we can communicate more clearly and you can know exactly where I'm coming from when I say unusual things and you can feel more comfortable about knowing which of them you might find relevant and which you just don't.
    Is that okay? Shall I carry on?
    If so essentially there are three separate journeys which I have taken away from where your views on maths educations lie - a philsophical one, an experiential one and one which proactively explored and exploited the possibilities of ICT in maths educations.
    If you want me to start, pick one of these three topics. I'll talk about what happened and you can criticise/ask questions until were done and then we'll change topic.

  20. Where have I said 'the fundamental axioms of mathematics'? I'd just expect as a minimum that students should be able to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide before they apply such concepts to real life problems. As Betamale describes, many teachers are still trying to get 16 year old students to be able to calculate basic products of numbers because they've been taught through a subjective philosophy from primary school.
    Now you're misquoting me. Objectivism for me is that idea that within the philsophy that is Mathematics, you are right, or you are wrong. Obviously statistics is a caveat to this, but then again the calculations in statistics are either one way or another and it's the interpretation that is subjective.
    If you take the approach that you, and bgy1mm, and others on here take, then you lose the objectivity - i.e. the all encompassing idea that a mathematical theory is only useful if proven - and Mathematics itself is just another subjective philosophy.
    The pride people have in Mathematics - and the pride all the great mathematicians have had in their career (right from Pythagoras, through Al-Kwarizmi, Fibonacci, Newton, and so on) is that Mathematics is THE objective philosophy. Lose that, and we might as well stop, now.
    I've actually done a lot of work in this area. During my two periods at university I worked with school groups in investigating the structure of bridges, and investigating and developing principles that determined which designs would take the strongest loads; in another session with a different school I led a project investigating the mechanics of bungee jumps, and how to design the rope structures to have the most 'thrilling' bungee jump without damaging the body; In my time as a teacher I've used the Bowland Mathematics materials to investigate the reduction of Road Traffic Accidents in a town; developing a new Smoothie drink for the health food market; that just touches the surface.
    Whilst these were all fun, and the students learned a lot in applying their knowledge of Mathematics - the one thing that stood out is that whilst students had sound ideas, they did not have the concrete Mathematics (in whatever form: arithmetic, algebra, geometry...) to execute them.
    In any field, ideas are all well and good - but if you don't have the concrete tools to develop, formalise and execute them, then they're useless.
    And to quote a great man 'Nothing useless can be truly beautiful'.

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