Perfection To Pieces
A young woman sits staring at a computer screen, in a dimly lit room, with Pandora playing quietly in the background. Her mind is utilizing the knowledge obtained in an English Composition class on mindsets. Trying to answer questions generated in her mind linking her idealization of a growth mindset, and struggling her internal battle of wanting to be perfect in every way her loved ones expected her to be. In the growth mindset one uses mistakes as a growth tool to learn and adapt to any environment the world offers. Struggling with her own personal identity that a mistake made twice, is a choice. This young woman just started her first semester in Delaware County Community College. After an 8 year hideous of traditional education, she is embarking on a journey towards her future. As a student carrying a GPA of 3.93 in her last academic challenge, one could assume she rarely made mistakes. She chose to start English Composition as her first and only course starting in the fall semester because history has shown English to be her strongest subject. Stepping foot on a Community College campus at her age was already weighing in the back of her mind.
She hurried to find her class, early as always, fully equipped with notebook, voice recorder, highlighters and pens, as well as candy to share with the class. These are the things every good college student needs at hand. Also, in her mind if she offered the kids candy, her age may not be ridiculed as only younger generations can with words, and social media. Her professor was something she had never encountered in past educational institutions. He laid fourth a curriculum she had never seen. He was going to lead them in a direction that challenged their current ways of thinking. Also, intern they would hopefully question a few of his thinking’s as well. After the first class she was very excited to learn they would be creating a digital profile, as well as having formal bog assignments due by next week’s class. She was ready to shine. Enjoying the opening arguments that the professor had offered to prove to his students, his education was worth their money. She took notes on that class, as well as recorded it. Hurried home back to Delaware, to see her husband who excitedly waited to hear how her first night went. The past month her anxiety has been really high, and he was worried if something triggered her, she would quit. The man smiled and beamed as she explained the professor, the way he takes a non-traditional approach to teaching his students, down to the student dynamics of the class. She was not the oldest and he could sense relief in her spirts. The second week she arrived early as always, even with setbacks of being held in the office for the last patient who did have a complicated case. Hearing exam room 3 door open and they physicians door next to it close, she got ready to check them out. Peaked at the clock in the left hand, bottom corner of her computer it was 5:33 pm. Her clock out time on Thursdays is normally at 5:00 pm. Wanting to stop at the Wawa she had discovered on a back road to get a pumpkin spice coffee, An ill looking man in his 90’s and his wife approached the window she noticed the stack of papers indicating testing, follow-ups and possible invasive cardiology to be set up at the hospital. Understanding that she was already behind schedule, she greeted the couple with a warm smile. He had just had open heart surgery and had been acquainted with her for the last seven years in this office. Quickly handling the last patient with care, she closes down the office until the morning when she will lighten the waiting room with florescent lights once again. Entering the campus only 15 minutes early, she still felt accomplished. Realizing she was already late, she problem posed a solution of neglecting her bodies internal crave for coffee and forfeiting her Wawa stop, she satisfied the beast with a red bull left over in the fridge at work. As she drove towards the unknown back roads in Media, she and Galaxy Voice exchanged dialog.
“Galaxy Voice please direct me to Delaware County Community College”
“No connection found please try again later”
“Great Galaxy Voice, damn back roads of Media”
She then used her basic knowledge of how Media was laid out by looking at maps in the past to give patients directions to the office. The smart woman, used tools to navigate around setbacks that seemed to be God’s way of validating that she may not belong in college. She pulled out a small piece of paper she had written the new class room number on then grabbed her fully equipped school bag and headed through the parking lot. Entering the computer lab she took a seat in the front row. The room was small and seemed smaller with the intrusive size of the computers. The main focus was the front of the class where the teacher’s computer was sitting on top of a stand in the right corner. Lin sat next to her and she was happy that it was not like the first day of high school when no one wanted to sit next to the new freshman who seemed kind of dorky with her obscure style in clothing. Wondering how a class can be decentered with this set up she pulled out her notebook and pens ready to take notes. On the board our class tonight was going to cover reflections, introductions, and building Weebly pages and blog. The non-expectation was explained for the weekly reflections blog. So many questions worked her minds as to what was supposed to be done in the exact way the teacher would grade favorably, so she could perfect the assignment. Introductions were done in a unique way. The class had completed basic questions as name, city born, and other non-identifying inquiries. Finally, to share a secret that would be read tonight. The woman’s was unconcerned because she had released nothing personal to strangers that were only known for 3 hours of her life. The class mingled trying to figure out whose secret belonged to who. Finally, her excitement was peaked when the subject of creating their Weebly page arose. As she lifted the large computer out of the desk that held it captive, she realized the arm was broken. No problem she thought, there was another computer on the other side of Lin she could use. Gathering all of her materials, she moved over. Went to start the computer and nothing happened beside a screen of a cable being missing.
The tone in her voice now grabbed her professor’s attention, not to mention the students behind her as the front is her favorite spot. Instead of fighting a losing battle with technology, she moved back to the other computer and continued to follow along with the class; head tilted sideways. She finished that class quietly paying attention and taking notes. The third class is where the wheels start turning for our old freshman. They continued to construct their Weebly websites. Being the perfect student she was, the website that carried her name was just about right. Walking through some of the blogs that were due one peaked her interest in particular. Mindsets?
That night as soon as she got home, she began watching the videos that would be the mold for the My Mindsets assignments. The ones in particular that grabbed her attention were based mainly on the science proving a growth mindset is better than a fixed mindset. In particular, Growth Mindset: Studies Showing the Brain is Malleable and Neuroplasticity. Watching the following few videos, just seem to affirm that she was a growth mindset. Believing firmly that the brain was like a muscle and the more you worked it the more intellectual one becomes. She began to investigate more, which was a picture perfect description of what a growth mindset looks like in action. Unlike a fixed mindset which believes that you are born with the intellectually capacity that you will die with. The young woman walked around the next two weeks with affirmation she was a growth mindset, has always been a growth mindset but now had a scientific name to link to it. That came to a screeching halt in class the fifth week, when the Adaptive Mindset Paper was assigned.
The professor had spoken the last few weeks about the blogs being blueprints for the major assignment papers. She had already reviewed the basic concepts of the paper linked on the course page. None of her current topics seemed to hold enough weight for the paper. Some thought she just didn’t want to re-create something she had already perfected. After class that night she spoke with him on this.
“Have you seen anything on my blogs that might be my topic”?
“I have seen many posts that could be your project”
His verbal instruction seemed vaguer then his assignment sheet on the paper. She prompted him for more information hopefully gaining more in sight on what he wanted on paper. That was the moment her ideology of having a growth mindset changed. He commented on his perception of her wanting to be perfect. She concurred with only a head nod. He questioned:
“How can you have a growth mindset if you are not embracing mistakes, and always trying to avoid them?”
Her mind went crazy with the thought that she did not have a growth mindset and was fixed without even knowing. The lack of not knowing affirms that she is a fixed in mindset. Thoughts circled her mind with this revelation, and the professor must have known he invoked deep thought by the glass look that covered her eyes. They ended their conversation. She thought on paper and electronic devices for days trying to pick the perfect topic for a paper, which was required to be no more than 1,000 words. Avoiding the mindsets topic and not wanting to address her fears, she studied all of the other topics offered. Every outline she created led her back to the realization in class that rainy Thursday night. Sitting on her couch on Saturday eating pumpkin spice pretzels bought at the local farmers market earlier that morning, she pulled out her notebook and began to brain storm. Her husband and mother threw out ideas as they saw her struggling with the choice for over two days now. They both knew her juices still had to get flowing and produce a rough draft with prologue and epilog for the assignment by next week. As she was scratching out ideas as soon as they hit the page, she lingered longer on mindsets. Realizing just because she has perfection issues, does not mean she is a fixed mindset. Knowing over the last few weeks that she asks questions about her world, receives the answer and then produces more thought provoking questions requiring usage of parts of her brain that had never been mapped before. She sat at her computer and produced an amazing story of a journey illustrating what a person with a growth mindset in progress goes though.