I always hesitate at the edge of the Ocean before putting my toes into the water. There’s something about touching the edge of an entity so vast that gives me pause. I think about cold depths, miles of just water touching sky, and all that the Ocean must know in its millennia of being.
The last couple of weeks I’ve had a sharp in-flow of new ideas and concepts that are taking some time to fully understand. It might be the culmination of “Summer” that’s brought this on with its ripening to include a gathering together of different concepts that now want to dance together. Maybe it’s the shift into the School Year. As my children prepare to start classes, it reminds me of when I was a student and settling in to the new school year in the Fall.
Oddly enough, these ideas are about ideas, frameworks, paradigms, and how to think about thinking. As I try to set new family routines to align with the Fall schedule of schoolwork, I’m fully aware that this will be a year like none other. There’s tremendous opportunity here in this disruption to co-create a new way of learning that will greatly benefit my children with wider effects beyond our home. By virtue of being home with the “Distance Learning Model”, this way of learning is tightly bound to home life and family, but still situated in the wider school and town communities.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, it seems like I need to re-examine almost everything. As soon as I wrote down in my planner “Learn New Ways…Explore New Ways” for August, stuff started flowing in. (At this point, I’m really thoughtful about what I write down in the planner because it shows up in big ways.)
I order to prepare for Distance Learning, I’m taking an online course called, “A Teacher’s Toolbox”. This course brought up the concepts of Fixed Mindsets and Growth Mindsets*. At its most basic: A Fixed Mindset believes that you’re either born with a talent for something or not. Not good at something right away, stop trying. Failure is a stop sign in this mindset. A Growth Mindset believes that talents can be developed. Keep trying until you get it. Failure is a stepping stone.
But what is even a Mindset? How many are there? Is this just another way to describe how people see the world, themselves, and their abilities? It is a set of routines or habits of thoughts? I’m not comfortable with the “either…or” of the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset – people are vastly more complex that that, but is there something in “mindset” that I can use?
As I’m taking the online course, I’ve also been reading “The Regenerative Life” by Carol Sanford which is allowing me to sink deeper into some of these concepts. She recently appeared on Rune Soup (https://runesoup.com/2020/07/talking-the-regenerative-life-with-carol-sanford/), and I was intrigued by the discussion.
I’ve been reading the book very slowly. For me, it’s been difficult to hold these new ways of thinking about purpose, method, principals, approach, and goals. Like the way the word, “Regenerative” feels like little pebbles in my mouth when I say it, the ideas that spring forth from encountering the book roll around and never quite settle. This is a good thing! My intuition tells me that it’s worth the effort.
The book has upended the ways that I’ve usually thought of parenting and educator roles. It feels like I’ve opened up a box from Ikea and the wood, screws, bolts, and tools are spilled out on the floor in front of me – but not only are there no instructions, I’m not entirely sure what I’m building.
I keep telling myself that “this is a good thing”. Because no matter how long I hesitate at the Ocean’s edge, I always go in the water. This vast ocean of thoughts about thinking, although a little intimidating, looks fun to swim in. When everything is in the middle of changing, this is the best time to examine how you want things to be, to question how and why things have always been the way they’ve been, to plan and to push for the best possible outcome. Learn New Ways. Explore New Ways.
*These concepts were introduced in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck. I have not read this book, but the Growth / Fixed Mindsets are used by many of the teachers at our local elementary school.