Newsletter #184: The Problem with Growth Mindset

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The college admissions scandal riveted our attention this week, and several loyal readers reached out for my take. Besides the usual thoughts — yes, the system is rigged — I was reminded of the hard work of teachers and mentors who support young people who will be the first in their families to graduate from college. This is deeply important work. Certainly, it’s hard to compete with rich cheating parents and pricey college counselors. But still, young people persist, and they hold fast to their dreams of higher education, because of the good people who surround them.

+ HHH #9 was great (thank you!), but if you prefer a smaller, more intimate space to read and think with other loyal subscribers, sign up now for Pop-Up Article Club #3 on April 13, 2-4 pm in Oakland. There are four spaces left!

The Problem With Growth Mindset

All good theories in education eventually get debunked. Or at least things seem that way. A few examples: the marshmallow test, the 30-million word gap, the 10,000-hour rule, and my favorite, grit. Now growth mindset, which focuses on the malleability of intelligence, might be on the chopping block. Apparently 30 years of research by psychologist Carol Dweck is not showing up in the same way in classrooms across the country. Prof. Dweck says educators are oversimplifying her theory, misappropriating growth mindset as the new self-esteem. This is likely true; after all, educators do enjoy repeating buzzwords over and over again. (15 min)

America, Say My Name

This delightful essay by novelist Viet Thanh Nguyenasks a simple question: “What exactly is an American name?” After trying on Troy as a kid, and adopting a Starbucks nickname, Mr. Nguyen now demands that people call him Viet. He writes, “All of our names, no matter their origins, [can] be a part of this country. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them.” Teachers, try this on Day 1 next year, or pair it with Langston Hughes’s “I, Too.” (6 min)

Remapping California: How Los Angeles Was North and East Before It Was West

“Maps,” Carolina A. Miranda writes, “shape our view of the world.” Drawing from the history of Indigenous peoples, Chinese Americans, and Mexican Americans, Ms. Miranda looks closely at various maps of Los Angeles, portraying the city as quintessentially Californian, embroiled in conflict and brimmed with beauty. (18 min)

Who Needs Permanent Shelter When You Can Live in a School Bus Instead?

With Bay Area housing prices likely to skyrocket soon, when Airbnb and other tech companies go public, maybe the trick to life is to shun immobile shelter altogether. But #vanlife is so 2017. Enter #skoolielife, where mostly white people get bored of their lifestyles, convert school buses into trendy RVs, and hit the road with their unschooled children. (Danny and Alex did it to avoid the rain.) (18 min)

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