Inexperience as a virtue

You know you’re a teacher if the following sentence makes you cringe: “I’m not a math person.”

(If that didn’t make you cringe, go ahead and replace math for art, language, humanities, creativity, etc. Okay. Now go back to cringing for a moment.)

The language here is important because there’s a big difference between “Keeping up in math class is hard” and “I’m not a math person.”

The problem with saying “I’m not a math person” isn’t just the sense of defeat in it. As Seymour Papert puts it, the deeper problem is that phrasing like this turns deficiency into identity. With this language, the mindset has officially changed. Growth is no longer a goal. Surrender is part of you. It’s utterly corrosive.

But here’s the surprising part: I’m wondering if the inverse is corrosive too.  Continue reading