N4L 137: "Limitless Mind" by Dr. Jo Boaler


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


In her latest book, Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers, Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor in the School of Education at Stanford University, explodes myths surrounding “giftedness." She asserts, “The myth that our brains are fixed and that we simply don’t have the aptitude for certain topics is not only scientifically inaccurate; it is omnipresent and negatively impacts education and many other events in our everyday lives. When we let go of the idea that our brains are fixed, stop believing that our genetics determine our lives’ pathways, and learn that our brains are incredibly adaptable, it is liberating.”


  • Neuroplasticity means brains are continually forming new pathways every time we learn.
  • Multidimensional learning is the best way to connect with any content.
  • “Speed is out and flexibility is in.” (Speed does not equal good intelligence.)
  • Labeling a child as “smart” causes children to develop a damaging fixed mindset.
  • A “growth mindset,” a concept made famous by Carol Dweck, improves when you’re at the edge of your understanding, especially when you struggle and make mistakes.
  • Giving feedback is much more helpful to learners than giving grades is.
  • Albert Einstein, who constantly talked about not having any special gift, was, instead, constantly curious.
  • Connecting and collaborating with others strengthens our brains.


  • “Whatever [brain] you’re born with is eclipsed by the millions of opportunities people have to develop and strengthen their brains.”
  • “Anyone can learn anything!”
  • “Every year millions of children start school excited about all they will learn, but quickly become disillusioned when they get the idea they are not as ‘smart’ as others.”
  • “If you refuse to accept labels and these limiting ideas, and you give kids rich learning environments and the right messages, anything can happen.”
  • “Researchers now know that when people with math anxiety encounter numbers, a fear center in the brain is activated—the same fear center that lights up when people see snakes or spiders.”
  • “Anxiety in any subject area has a negative impact on the functioning of the brain.”
  • “It is fine to praise children, but always praise what they did and not them as people.”
  • “The more we struggle, the better learning and brain growth.”
  • “Everyone is on a growth pathway. There is not a cutoff to giftedness.”

BUY Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers


Watch the video, "Rethinking Giftedness."

For “limitless” resources, visit Boaler’s website (youcubed.org).

Listen to a related Nonfiction4Life podcast: Episode 70 - “Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying."

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