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Math Mindset Lessons from the movie “Moneyball”

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Moneyball — it’s a movie about baseball. And statistics. And underdogs succeeding against “impossible odds” – wait – make that, underdogs succeeding by stacking the odds in their favor in ways no one else had thought of before.

But Moneyball is also a movie about the battle between two mindsets: the mindset of the old-school baseball managers, who recruit and hire players based on “talent”, and new-school baseball managers, Billy Beane and Peter Brand, who hire and develop players based on their potential and overlooked, proven ability.

I see Beane and Brand’s approach as an awesome example of “growth mindset” – the belief – which is true – that human ability and intelligence is something that you develop with effort over time, instead of something that you’re born with a certain amount of which you just demonstrate throughout your life.

Related posts:
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A Disorder can be an asset
Self-taught heroes: William Kamkwamba, the boy who harnessed the wind
Tip of the day: what to do when your kid makes a math mistake

7 Comments on “Math Mindset Lessons from the movie “Moneyball””

  • beth on February 23rd 1:26 pm

    Rebecca: I have never seen this movie but I definite love that you focus on the ‘growth mindset” with both your students and on your website.

    I am grateful that you are willing to share things that you have learned to help other people. I have used some of the things that I have learned from you to help the people that I work with. They have made me a more effective helper.

  • Rebecca Zook on February 23rd 2:08 pm

    Beth, I’m so glad to meet you here, thank you so much! I am really glad to hear you have found some of these ideas helpful — I am glad to help! I checked out your website — I am happy you are advocating for the wetlands, which are so important.

  • beth on February 23rd 5:33 pm

    Thanks, I love to connect people to nature.

    I found your site when I was trying to locate math assessments to identify where kids I tutor were in their math abilities. That’s my paying gig. I am just starting.

    Your site led me to Math-U-See which got me the assessments I was looking for and some teaching tools I hope to buy soon.

    I also found your video about using the grid to replace the FOIL method of factoring really helpful. I am reviewing all my old math skills and I was just on the section that dealt with factors when I found that video. I tweaked that grid a little to help me go from the trinomial to the two factors that make it up and it made it really easy to see all the parts and how they worked. I wish I’d had that in high school. You have a great site.

  • Rebecca Zook on February 27th 2:27 pm

    Hey Beth! I’m so glad you found Math-U-See helpful. And I’m glad that video was useful to you! I need to make one about using the grid to work backwards from the trinomial to the two binomial factors because you’re right — that’s another good way to use it! I wish someone had shown that way to me in high school too!

  • Theresa on March 1st 7:21 pm

    Exceptional article, Rebecca. I enjoyed the movie, but enjoyed your article, points of view and insights even more. Keep up the great brilliance!!

  • Math Tutoring on May 7th 11:07 am

    Great example of using math in the real world. So many kids ask “How am I ever going to use this stuff?” The movie is a great example as is the tie in with sports.

  • [...] here reminded me of watching the movie Moneyball – which you may have seen my other videos about. To me, one of the best parts of the movie [...]

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