So, When Are We Going To Start Learning Something?: A Most Beautiful Conversation

Last week, after what I believed was a well-planned, and engaging discussion and thought-provoking lesson on growth mindset the following dialogue occurred.


On the way out the classroom door heading to morning break one of my more ‘enthusiastic’ learners (Grade 7) triggered this fantastic conversation:

Student: Jeff, thanks for sharing that information.

Me: My pleasure, [student’s name]. Did you think that it was a useful discussion? 

Student: Kinda. I guess.

Student: [long pause]

Student: Jeff, when are we going to start learning something?

Me: Um, we just did…

Student: No, I mean like really useful stuff. Stuff to help you in life. 

Me: Like what kind of stuff?

Student: You know, stuff that matters. Learning real stuff. Like math. Reading. You know, important stuff.

Me: Um…we’ll be getting to that next week.

Student: Oh…I’m just really keen to learn new things.

Me: Me, too. Hey, was there something new that you learned this morning?

Student: Yeah. For sure. It was a lot of stuff.

Me: Yeah, it was. Did you connect with anything valuable from the discussion? Like how the way we think affects how we learn or whether we learn?

Student: Yeah. How our brains can change. How I can change it with my thoughts, I guess. Kinda cool.

Me: For me, I see a connection between learning stuff out there [pointing past student’s shoulder] and stuff in here [pointing at myself]. Kinda deep stuff, eh?

Student: [long pause] I guess so…

Me: I think that understanding how our brains work is important for understanding how we learn. Math. Reading. Driving a car. Making cookies. Whatever.

Student: [long pause]

Student: Did you have to learn that stuff in school?

Me: Nope. But, I wish that I did.

Student: Why? And why are they teaching it now?

Me: Because now we know better. We know what it takes to become successful learners for life. I also think it will help everyone to become happier and more joyful, too.

Student: [looks at me with a nonbelieving look on their face]

Me: No. Seriously. I do.

Student: You said that learning the mindset stuff is the most important “stuff” that we’ll learn all year.

Me: Yes. Because I believe it is.

Student: [long pause]

Student: More important than math?

Me: Actually, I do. Crazy, eh?

Student: Ah, yeah. Kinda.

Student: [long pause]

Student: I’m going to grab my snack.

Me: Me, too. See you after the break for some math [wink].

NOTE: I still have so much to learn. About teaching. About learning. About my students. About myself. The journey continues…


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