This is the third in a series of guest blogs by the CREATE Lab Team.
By Bea Dias
I remember being 5 years old and entering school for the first time. I was a scared, insecure and naive child who didn’t speak the language fluently and was very unsure of herself. Still, I was curious; about the school, about whom I would meet, about who I would become, and about the world I will enhabit. I had many questions, but no license nor confidence to ask those questions. So, over time my curiosity went dormant, and pressure to adhere to norms and rules took precedence in my life.
When reflecting on “Fluency Mindset”, I return to that first moment of entering elementary school. What would it have taken for me to feel confident and empowered enough to ask questions, and then follow those lines of inquiry to find answers? Perhaps, I needed a teacher who could empathize with my experience or a peer who wanted to explore with me. This is something we are investigating through Fluency: How can we build a foundation for learning so that students feel heard, understood, and empowered to ask questions and follow those questions?
In essence, we want to encourage and foster the curiosity that children come into school with, and provide them with tools and a safe space to explore their questions. This type of atmosphere can help build habits of mind that lead to independent inquiry, critical thinking, confident communication, perseverance and creative problem solving. A Fluency Mindset is the critical ingredient we need to unlock this potential; it is a form of freedom to be our authentic selves, to value our existing knowledge without feeling inadequate about what we do not know yet, and to be confident and excited about exploring the unknown. A Fluency Mindset should make learning joyful and fulfilling, regardless of where you begin.
How we build this mindset in students cannot be prescriptive; rather, our approach must: be rooted in knowledge of ourselves and our students, build on what students already know, focus less on content and more on concepts, and give students space and license to inquire, explore and draw their own conclusions about topics that interest them.
Thinking back, I wonder how my story would have been shaped if I had felt valued and accepted as a student, instead of silenced and corrected. I will never know this, but I do know it is imperative that we take action to better prepare our children for a future that has not yet been imagined. A Fluency Mindset is a good place to start...