Having a positive mindset in math may do more than just help students feel more confident about their skills and more willing to keep trying when they fail; it may prime their brains to think better.

Of the children in the study, 47 were asked to either stare at a fixed point or identify whether a series of addition problems were correct while being scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, a noninvasive method of identifying brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow in the brain.

Professor Chen and his colleagues found that students with higher positive-mindset levels in math were more accurate at identifying correct and incorrect math problems, even after controlling for differences in IQ, age, working memory, reading ability, and math anxiety.

A lower positive-mindset level was likewise associated with lower math performance….

Students with high positive-mindset levels had generally greater brain activity in a number of areas of the brain associated with math problem-solving: the hippocampus, the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, the left supplementary motor area, the right lingual gyrus, and the dorsal cerebellum. In particular, the researchers found faster, smoother connections, called “upregulation” between the hippocampus—an area often associated with the ability to quickly remember math facts and processes—and the other brain areas associated with math problem-solving.

Common Core is designed to give children a lower positive-mindset level.. That is its whole purpose.  Take children struggling to jump over a 3 foot high jump, raise the bar to 5 feet, berate the children on their performance, and fire the coach because the same number who could jump a 3 foot high jump, couldn’t muster the 5 foot one…

How does that make a child feel.  How does that make you feel?

Hence their focus on rigor and grit.  Nicer words than “child torture”, I’ll admit, but still having the same meaning…

This study suggests that the wiring of our brains is such that when we have a positive mental attitude, we perform better….


But at least there is a study now that has data to prove it… The corporate education reformers who suggest  that having a prison-like atmospheres in their schools, who are keen on making little children suffer, who get so excited they perspire when they talk of failing 70% of America’s students…  still have zero evidence that their solution has ever borne results… All they have is theory.

So now, we evidence that backs common sense; evidence that debunks Common Core… It’s lightweight. It’s the first.  But still it is evidence that pursuing the Smarter Balanced Assessments past 2016, will drop Delaware even lower in Math than it is already….

It is ironical that on the NAEP, often called the nation’s report card… recently in the news for its collapse and the negative direction its results .. did have bright spots that continued the historical gains the NAEP had always shown up until now…  .but they came from states not doing Common Core… Those states jumping into Common Core most aggressively (Delaware is one) had the greatest losses over 2013….

So evidence is mounting… Common Core is bad.  Smarter Balanced Assessments take us in the wrong direction, and the only reason we went down this path, was because someone connected with it was going to get rich one day….

(or get mentioned on Chuck Todd broadcast as a person-to-be-watched.)