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Limiting beliefs can seriously damage learning, and what rice can teach us

Limiting beliefs can have a negative impact on your and your students’ learning…and what we can learn from rice

  • Do you ever express doubts about
    • your professional abilities,
    • being able to remember
      • the contents of the topics you are studying,
      • the presentation you will have to give in front of the panel,
    • your ability to get the so much sought-after position in the Spanish State Education System?
  • Have you ever told yourself that you were unable to tackle a problem or to handle a “difficult” class?
  • Did you ever come across a group or an individual student who you considered “unteachable”?

But…What if you found out that those limiting beliefs may have been contributing to their becoming real?

And, what is more important…

What if you learnt to get rid of them by starting to create a positive learning environment and an achievement culture for yourself and your students?

Limiting beliefs

As some of you may know, in the last three months, I have been engulfed in the new edition and improvement of the book Inglés Programación Didáctica, to be published presently by 7Editores (former MAD).

My original intention was to just modify the legislation and a few key elements to make them comply with current requirements.

But then, I started by including a few more things here and there. That led me to read this and that. And to ask my readers and former students what they would like or would have liked to find in a manual which aims to show candidates how to draft their personal Syllabus Design or Teaching Programme.

I have been reading and coming across some very interesting things on motivation, learning, attitudes, collaboration and assessment. Some of those things have been included in the book, which I finished last weekend. Some others will be part of the contents for Syllabus Design in the Building Block Courses or in future posts.

And yes, I did have some limiting beliefs.  But rather than talking about them, I am going to tell you what I learnt from …

A non-scientific experiment with rice

In February, a blogger friend published a post on Mi Pensamiento crea mi realidad. Comprobado” . I thought it would be fun to try out the “experiment”, to see what might happen. And so, on 24th February I cooked some rice and distributed it among three tumblers:

Tumbler no. 1: The 3 Ms

With most of the writing in green to represent Public (State) schools, had a heart, sort of saying “I love you, rice” and three Ms: One for my Mum, another for Malala and the third for Michele. My three heroes, each one representing a value for me. The picture of the tumbler is at the beginning of this post.

Tumbler no. 2: The 2 I loathe most

I am not going to name them because I do not wish to give them any publicity. I despise them for many reasons and so I decided to put all my scorn and hate into that little glass. So, the label had a very badly-drawn bomb —probably more of a hand-grenade than a bomb, but it is irrelevant— and the two names. It was in red because one of them tends to wear ties that colour, and the other shows a particularly nasty bent towards  blood.

Tumbler no. 3: Indifference

The third tumbler had a blank label to represent indifference and I did totally ignore it. Did not even look at it for the first few days and when I started was just to check how it was progressing. In the picture, it is placed in the middle.

The progress and end of the experiment

To cut a long story short, after 6-7 days of saying nice, loving and encouraging things on the firsthorrible things to the second and ignoring the third the evolution was interesting to see.

I decided to keep the rice until I finished the revision and improvement of the book on Syllabus Design, which I did on March 11th, a day to remember for Madrid, and which is somewhat related to tumbler number 2.  This is what they looked like before throwing them away:

If that is the effect nice or nasty words can have on rice, what won’t they have on people?

Start to create a positive learning environment and an achievement culture for yourself and your students

A. Smith is a UK trainer in Accelerated Learning techniques. I have recently read one of his books with the sub-title “Brain-based methods for accelerating motivation and achievement”. I believe this affects teachers and students alike. Particularly if we are or want to be part of the Learning Society. Surely, you’ll agree with me that we keep on learning for as long as we live?!

If we think of the non-scientific experiment with rice,

    • The first stage is to change those limiting beliefs which tell us
      • that we “cannot do it” or
      • that that student or that group “cannot make it”
        • and turn them into “we can do it” and “they can make it”.
    • Next, develop positive thoughts about what you can do and what you have done.
    • Use positive words like challenging, plus (+), have I have done/learnt, etc.
    • Praise yourself for what you’ve done rather than for what you “think you are”.
    • And if you ever catch yourself having limiting beliefs…
      •  seize the challenge and distance yourself from them by saying: how would I feel if I did?
        • And then, picture yourself after having done it.

After all, just as I did with the rice experiment, you lose nothing by trying it out…and it’s fun!

Apasionada de la lengua inglesa y sus múltiples matices, mi objetivo es ayudarte en la preparación de la oposición a profesores de inglés y contribuir a que la escuela pública ofrezca la enseñanza de calidad –de y en lengua inglesa– que nuestros alumnos necesitan en el s. XXI

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