This is the biological theory behind Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck’s educational theory of mindset.
Dweck describes a fixed mindset as the belief that your potential was determined at birth and that your intelligence is fixed at a certain level – and this belief makes you think if you struggle with maths, then you will never be able to master it – you are just “not a maths person”.
A growth mindset is a belief that through purposeful effort, you can improve your understanding and grow your potential. A growth mindset supports productive struggle – the perseverance to continue wrestling with a mathematical problem until you make a meaningful understanding of it and truly learn it!
Perseverance is an essential learning behaviour you need to achieve in mathematics. Carol Dweck highlights the use of the word ‘yet’ in the maths classroom – “I can’t do it yet, but with further effort, I will be able to do it!”