The Key to Intelligence
“You can be as smart as you want to be,” says Carol S. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Many people read this and think this is an idealistic belief that serves as a crude mantra teachers feed to their students. At Milwaukee Montessori School, we believe that with a proper education any student can thrive. To us, a proper education focuses on challenging a student daily to not only learn new material but also apply that acquired knowledge.
Carol Dweck proposes two ways an individual can learn - a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. “Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is simply an inborn trait…individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can develop their intelligence,” states Dweck.
While many of our students already have growth mindsets, those who don’t are brought into our robust and intellectually engaging curriculum to develop one. Contrary to a fixed mindset, the advantageous nature of a growth mindset includes remaining involved after initial obstacles, trying new strategies, willingness to take risks, and approaching work with excitement, says Professor Dweck. These are all skills that MMS students continually display as they move between levels and eventually off to high school.
Students must ultimately decide to accept a growth mindset, but teachers at Milwaukee Montessori School play a significant role in fostering that way of thinking. Professor Dweck’s article elaborates on the role of teachers saying, “Meaningful learning tasks need to challenge every student in some way.” Our philosophy has always pushed the notion that homework and assignments should cerebrally stimulate every student. Part of the individualized education is a student continually pushing their education to the next level. This is not to say that students rush through assignments as we always push mastery above all else. Professor Dweck delves into this idea saying that slow learning is sometimes better, as concepts are learned more completely, something MMS repeatedly emphasizes.
The short response to the idea that you can be as smart as you want is a resounding "yes" here at Milwaukee Montessori School. Professor Dweck has finally put a label onto the concept we have always advocated, the nurturing of every child’s natural curiosity. Dr. Maria Montessori once said, “We can only give to each child the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities.” This is precisely the style of education our teachers give students at MMS, an environment where satiety of knowledge is not a possibility.