Friday, 23 September 2016

Angelina and Midi-Me change their mindsets.

Mummy on the Edge
Families North West London Magazine
May June 2016

As a kid watching telly, I would get very excited whenever I saw an Asian person on the television. I’d make a quick lap to the foot of the stairs and back to shout, “Indian person on the telly!” so that my sisters and parents could share the thrill.

On BBC 2 on Sunday mornings they used to show an English language teaching programme. One day they featured an Indian lady learning to drive; hitting the breaks suddenly, nearly whiplashing herself and her instructor in the process, she learned the invaluable phrase “Oof! Vut vent rung?” (Nope, not offensive when I do it.)

With the achingly cringeworthy Desi Rascals enjoying 2 primetime seasons, you would think that I’d be over it by now. But no. Seeing an Asian on the telly STILL manages to press my novelty button and I now subject Midi-Me to my compulsion. If we are zapping channels on a Saturday night and an Asian name appears at the bottom of the screen in the XFactor programme info, are you kidding? Of course, we HAVE to watch it.

Same went for a Ted talk that flashed up on my facebook feed. Teach girls bravery, not perfection says the founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani Everything in the description made me want to watch this immediately.  Also… INDIAN!!! I have put a link to this talk on my facebook page; it’s well worth a watch. It came at a timely moment because Midi-Me and I had just been to a talk by Robin Launder ( all about Mindset Theory which stems from the research work of psychologist Carol Dweck. It’s about prioritising bravery over perfection when it comes to the education of our kids.

Dweck’s work has highlighted the difference in achievements between those with a growth mindset and those with a fixed mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that people are born with a certain level of intelligence that cannot be changed. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that intelligence can increase. When we praise children for being clever, this fosters in them a fixed mindset which discourages them from taking risks (eg harder work) because of the fear that they will fail and show themselves to be not so clever after all. By contrast, when we praise children for their efforts, it encourages a growth mindset which makes them want to work harder and improve themselves for the joy of learning things that they haven’t mastered YET. I have tried to synthesize this HUGE subject into a single paragraph. There’s a lot more to it. I will put up some other links on my facebook page that explain more about Mindset Theory for it is not an overstatement to say that this talk has changed my life. I now believe I can create new neural paths in my brain by using the Italian in a Month app on my phone every day. I now understand better why I am the way I am and how the way I am affects Midi-Me…

She is loving learning to code at school and of course I’m hoping she’ll design some amazing app that will make us her rich and pre-pay her way through university. In the mean time, she’s providing feedback on someone else’s really useful app. Isn’t it strange how things appear just when you need them? I was encouraging Midi-Me to create a revision timetable for her forthcoming exams when up popped a facebook status update from someone I went to primary school with, announcing her creation of a free app called Study M8 that does just that. You enter the subjects, topics, time available and priorities and it works it all out for you. Genius! Midi-Me and I suggested scheduling reward activities too. While we were downloading Study M8, we found another free app called Gojimo that provides self-tests for loads of subjects covering 11+, 13+, GCSE and A Levels. It even covers different examination boards.

IF I had not spent so much time in front of the box scanning for Indians; IF I had known about growth mindsets; IF there were such things as apps to help me study; IF. I might at this point in my life be giving a Ted Talk myself, instead of sitting here saying “IF”. With my new growth mindset however, I know it’s not too late; there’s still time to learn to be brave.

More at and and twitter @appleina.

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