Alice's EDA Blog

"Practice makes perfect (opportunities to grow)"

Neuroplasticity and Growth Mindset

February 2019


Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt throughout a person’s life. Every time we have a thought or learn something new we strengthen a neural pathway in our brain. These small changes can add up over time to significant brain rewiring.

"Neurons that fire together wire together."

Understanding that your brain is always changing and can be developed is hugely beneficial to anyone learning something new! If you believe that your brain is fixed, it’s hard to imagine coming to understand or master anything that you find difficult. You may believe that you’re just not talented at something and that’s the end of the story. But when you realise that connections in the brain are strengthened by repetition and experience, you can see that we always have the potential to improve.

Neuroplasticity highlights the importance of practice. To master something you have to put the time in and revisit it often. You can use that understanding to inform your own approach to learning. Make sure you're revisiting things through review, and practicing skills and thought patterns.

It does get harder to form new pathways as you get older, but you can take steps to help yourself continue to learn and change. Much like a muscle, the brain needs to be used to keep it strong. Continue to challenge yourself and put yourself in new learning experiences to help keep your brain malleable. You can also support your brain by maintaining your general physical health.

Read more about neuroplasticity here.

Growth Mindset

Having a Growth Mindset is understanding that your abilities can be developed through effort and persistence. Rather than believing your abilities are fixed (a ‘fixed mindset’) you know that you always have the capability to grow and improve. Perhaps not everyone can reach the same level of ability, but everyone is capable of improving beyond their current level.

In researching a Growth Mindset I came across the idea of possessing a Growth Mindset in some aspects of your life but not others. I think this is an interesting point - although we may be great at learning new thing in some aspects of our lives, there are often other ideas that we hold about ourselves without examining too closely. I think it’s valuable to examine our mindset in all aspects of our lives, not just those directly related to education.

I’m trying to integrate this way of thinking this into my time at EDA by focusing on consistent effort and growth rather than results. If I put time and focus into my learning then I will consider that a success. There are many external factors out of my control, but my effort is something that I can control.

If you want to learn more, you can read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Or check out a summary of the book, like this one.

My learning plan

After researching neuroplasticity and Growth Mindset I am updating my learning plan to include a focus on practice. I’ve added a new goal:

  • Practise JavaScript 6 days a week – by continuing with a project I’m working on or completing a kata.