How could I not read a book with the title of Limitless Mind? As someone that believes strongly that our minds are more capable than most of us realize, and knowing the book was based on scientific research, color me intrigued. It didn’t disappoint. Without giving away too much, this book provides insights on the topics of how our beliefs about topics shape our learning of those topics, memory, and aging (and how we can learn anything at any age), how the brain rewires on a daily basis, how math and science topics could and should be taught differently, and how others inadvertently derail our learning. I’ll attempt to provide you with enough information to determine if this book is worth your time and energy to read.
When I realized the author of Limitless Mind, Jo Boaler, was a mathematician and professor of mathematics, I almost changed my mind. Having been one of those many females that believed “math wasn’t my thing,” I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew with a book that included a focus on this particular topic. While I lived a life of professing we can learn anything, I have to admit, math was a topic I still harbored many negative feelings about. But this book isn’t just about math, it’s completely about mindset. Allow me to share how Jo Boaler changed my mind about math as well as life.
Research Related to Mindset
Limitless Mind focuses on the difference between fixed brains and growth mindsets. And it does so through scientific evidence related primarily to mathematics but also around lots of other topics. I love that it’s not focused on anecdotal stories but based on scientific research. While reading it, I found myself taking copious notes such as:
- The study about a group of housekeepers at a hotel chain who, when told they were exercising more than most people, saw a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, and a host of other biometric markers. The control group saw no such benefits even though they were all doing the same work.
- The studies proving we are creating new neural pathways every day of our lives based on what we mentally consume, learn, and experience.
- The study about cab drivers in London and the development of their brain scans over the 4-7 years they spend studying to be cab drivers.
- The studies around the best way to learn a new concept, any new concept, at any age.
- How we learn more from being challenged to the point of quitting than we do by just reading.
- The importance of learning new information on any topic in a variety of ways – through words, numbers, images, models, touching, smelling, tables, and graphs. And how doing so increases our retention!
- The real-world examples of people who have lost half of their brain (accidents, health issues) and how the brain rewires itself so these people have gone on to receive PhDs and live completely normal lives.
I could go on and on as the book is chock full of actual studies as well as stories of people you can actually research. As someone who has dedicated my life to helping others learn, this book was interesting, inspiring, and honestly, exciting – even if there was a focus on math.
Related Article: Limiting Beliefs & How They Impact You
Related Article: How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Success
The Affect of Mindset on Aging
Boaler provided a lot of information about the topic of aging. This was of particular interest to me as I am, eh hum, aging. Then again, so are you. Anyway, I was excited to see that we continue to learn as we age but we tend to have less confidence in our decisions. We take fewer risks, even when being tested. We know the answers but we tend to second-guess ourselves more as we age. And the more we challenge ourselves in learning, and keeping those neuro pathways busy and developing, the less likely we are to have dementia.
Maybe most importantly, the book reminded me that my own limited thinking around the topic of mathematics was a learned belief, brought about by teachers, parents, and other well-meaning adults with biases around the topic (lots of studies about this in the book). Learned beliefs can be unlearned and I found myself excited at the idea of overcoming this limited belief.
Related Article: Book Review of Everything is Figure Outable by Marie Forleo
This book is great for those passionate about learning, those with children in their lives who may be receiving limited thinking ideals around learning, teachers of any topic, and those that want to continue to grow and develop throughout their life.
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