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Is Your Child's Brain A Muscle Or A Machine?


Class of 2025 student Jason demonstrates his science project in April 2017.

Class of 2025 student Jason demonstrates his science project in April 2017.

Laura Klinkner/OPB

Class of 2025 student Jason has certain subjects and activities he knows he’s good at, and he much prefers doing those over tasks that don’t come as naturally. By contrast, his classmate Austin says he likes it when he has to “work at it, work at it,” to accomplish something.

Their divergent views reflect different “mindsets,” a growing focus among educators. Teachers and researchers say there’s clear evidence that students who think of their brains like muscles they can work out and build - as Austin does - tend to have an easier time responding to challenges in school.

So schools are trying to help students like Jason, who may not respond as comfortably to difficult school work. 

Some of the approaches are simple … like embracing the word “yet.” If you’re not understanding something, you’re just not understanding it … yet.

This episode of the “Class of 2025” will look at how this new focus on mindset is changing classrooms, and how parents and specific projects assigned by teachers can help kids treat their brains as muscles. 

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