‘The Limitless Mind’: Stanford professor talks in Napa

NapaLearns hosted the talk

For the Register, Peg Maddocks, Ph.D., E.D.
Published on September 22, 2019

Broad audience attends talk

More than 225 teachers, parents, and residents – came to Napa Valley College to hear Stanford University’s Dr. Jo Boaler talk about how to unlock a limitless mind on Sept. 6.

Boaler is an education professor who has written 14 mathematics books and numerous research articles. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world and she’s been named by the BBC as one of eight educators changing the face of education.

She is also the faculty director of, an education resource that has reached more than 230 million students.

Nonprofit NapaLearns hosted the talk, which included a wine reception and book signing.

Latest brain science reveals how we learn

Boaler’s new book is “Limitless Mind: Learn Lead and Live Without Barriers,” which is based on the latest brain research about how we learn. The results of the research definitely apply to teachers, but Boaler said, “Never giving up, taking risks and seeing the value of multiple routes to overcome or go around roadblocks — in other words, adopting a limitless approach to learning and life — are valuable to managers, leaders and generally everyone.”

Boaler said, “When everything comes too easy to us, when we don’t struggle, we lose the ability to see the value in taking risks. The latest brain research tells us that we’re capable of so much more than we think. Having a growth mindset, struggling through challenges and collaborating with others pushes the limits of our understanding and that’s when our brains are on fire with growth.”

Educators react to Boaler’s message

After listening to Boaler’s talk, special education teacher at Harvest Middle School, Lynda Bergner said, “My key takeaway is that no matter where my students are at, they’re not stuck there. I was really starting to doubt what I was teaching, but coming here in these two hours, it really revived me.”

“It gave me a new life to go into the classroom and show my students that it doesn’t matter how much you struggle, because the only thing that matters is the struggle. You will come out of the struggle and you will have learned more than if you didn’t. If it comes easy, it’s not worth knowing.”

Maria Cisneros, principal at Valley Oak High School, said, “As teachers, we need to reshape our thinking to really focus on learning instead of assessment. We need to provide different resources for our students. And we need to develop more innovative and creative ways for them to fail and have them feel good about it, because it is through that process that they are learning.”

What resonated for Tara Anderson, speech language pathologist at Pueblo Vista Elementary and New Tech High, was that, “It is possible for us to change our mindset. With patience and understanding and compassion, we can change. And, we are all in this together – there’s no expert – we are all learning together. When I’m teaching my students, I am learning myself. I teach listening and speaking sounds. They think we are the experts, but we’re not. I learn so much from my students and I’m growing through them.”

Julie Meyer-Houston, Canyon Oaks elementary teacher, summarized, “We want our students to think beyond what they see on the paper, to believe in themselves and to encourage each other so that they can all recognize that learning is a beautiful place to struggle in. It is there that their brain is going to grow the most and where they will find long lasting success.”

To learn more, you can hear an interview with Boaler at NAPABroadcasting.com The book, “Limitless Mind,” Is available now at Napa Bookmine.

This article originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register on September 22, 2019.