Several times already this school year — and we’re only four months into it — I’ve been confounded by my daughter’s homework. Once I didn’t even understand the directions. She’s seven. Which means we’ve got a ways to go. So, I need to step it up if I’m ever going to get through second grade — again. Course she’s teaching me and I do have a growth mindset which means that I believe with hard work, learning, and practice we can all get smarter.
That belief alone is one reason why our brains do grow, according to researchers like Carol Dweck, from Stanford University. People who believe that they can learn what they need to know tend to do the things that causes their brains to develop. They are also more resilient.
In the olden days, like say 25 years ago, many neuroscientists still believed the brain was a fixed organ. You were either smart or you weren’t. Now we know better. The brain is constantly rewiring and reconfiguring itself. When used, when exposed to changes in behavior or environmental – like new view, or walking route – and other factors, neural pathways and synapses grow and expand. The process of the brain changing is technically called neuroplasticity.
How to Get Smarter
One way to build and expand the brain then is to get thinking. You can take on new challenges, try brain teasers or crosswords, learn an instrument or new language, or for some of us, try to complete second grade homework .
When you work the brain, your brain gets stronger and healthier and that may even protect it against Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to some research.
The first step then, is to adopt a growth mindset. Look at the research that says our brains can expand and grow. Simply believing you can get smarter can lead to you doing the things that will make you smarter.
But how we pursue and practice the things we want to learn matters too. In Wednesday’s post, I’ll offer up some of the best and worst ways to retain new knowledge.
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