Who will the 21st-century learners be?
In a wonderful document Standards for the 21st-century Learner, AASL describes the skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies that are necessary for a 21st-century learner. For each of these qualities, the standards pose a question. For skills, they ask: "Does the student have the right proficiencies to explore a topic or subject further?" For dispositions, they ask: "Is the student disposed to higher-level thinking and actively engaged in critical thinking to gain and share knowledge?" For responsibilities, they ask: "Is the student aware that ... 21st-century learning require[s] self-accountability that extends beyond skills and dispositions?" And for self-assessment strategies they ask: "Can the student recognize strengths and weaknesses over time and become a stronger, more independent learner?" (AASL 2007, 8).
For many of our students, the answers will be "no." Not because they don't have the capacity to attain these proficiencies, but because they have a fixed mindset. Students who have this mindset believe that their intelligence is simply fixed--they have a certain amount, and that's that. My research has shown that when students have a fixed mindset, they value looking smart over learning. They do not care to explore topics in...
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