I've previously written about some of my favorite STEAM toys... but there's one item that deserves special attention:
One of the most important psychology studies of all time is Carol Dweck's research on theories of intelligence. She discovered that children tend to adopt one of two theories (or mindsets) of intelligence:
- Fixed mindset, or the idea that intelligence and abilities are set, and there's not much you can do to improve it.
- Growth mindset, or the belief that intelligence and abilities can improve the more you use them.
Children who have a fixed mindset are more likely to avoid taking chances and tackling challenges; they're more likely to give up in the face of hardship or failure; they're more likely to attribute failure to stable, internal, and unchangeable causes.
Here's the thing about STEM: however naturally gifted you are at it, you will eventually run into trouble. You will eventually struggle, or fail. When you get to the highest level of math, science or tech... things get hard. Things get trippy. And when you try to solve a problem no one's ever solved before... you're not always going to get it right the first time.
Meaning that kids who have fixed mindsets are going to learn to avoid tough classes, projects, competitions and challenges. This is a recipe for frustration and disaster.
Meanwhile, kids who have a growth mindset are more eager to tackle hard problems and try things they haven't tried before. They're more likely to keep trying when they don't get it right the first time.
In the future, knowledge will be worth less than it's ever been. Whatever you can memorize, a computer can memorize more. What humans can do better than computers... is design. Is develop hypotheses. Is try to solve new problems -- especially ones that don't have a right answer.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes explicitly teaches children to develop a growth mindset.
Because success isn't normal -- it's log-normal. It's not enough to be able to do the math, science or tech. You also have to have coping skills, perseverance, curiosity and resilience.
That is why this book is important! Buy it. Read it every day. It will benefit your child at LEAST as much as all their other STEM toys combined.
If you really want to go big on instilling the fixed mindset, you can also check out this honorable mention:
An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.
Want to know more? Then I highly recommend: