About 25 years ago I took an online IQ test just for the heck of it.
“Guess what my IQ is?”
“I don’t know. Is it at least 100?”
“Nope. It’s 45.”
“Wow! You really are an overachiever.”
I still think that test was accurate. It measured spatial intelligence and I admit I lack that ability. I’ve never enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, and putting together IKEA stuff—forget about it. That’s why when my 5 year-old grandson came to me with a toy car that needed to be assembled, my first instinct was to say, “Oh, Neil, I can’t do that. I’m not good at building things.” But instead I paused and said, “Well, you know Neil, I’m usually not good at this sort of thing, but let’s give it a try. Maybe together we can figure it out.” And we spent an hour or so assembling the pieces into a passable fire truck for little guys to play with.
Most of us have “closed mind sets” as Carol Dweck writes. Our students have them too. When they say, “I can’t do math,” or “I’m not good at writing” or “I don’t like to read,” they are demonstrating their “closed mind sets.” My inability to see how shapes fit together becomes my reluctance to do jigsaw puzzles, “They’re just a waste of time. It’s stupid.” The 1,000 piece puzzles that consumed other members of my family remained a mystery to me.
Now that I’m “old and grey” I discover that if I keep trying even I can somehow achieve a small victory. Never mind that the 3 year-old in the house came by after his brother and I had completed building the fire engine, took it all apart, and reassembled it in about 10 minutes. I still see myself as a winner!