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Teens do better in science when they know Einstein and Curie also struggled – Quartz.

Apparently learning that science does not always come naturally—even to geniuses—helps children succeed.

Students who learned that great scientists struggled, both personally and intellectually, outperformed those who learned only of the scientists’ great achievements, new research shows.

Ninth- and 10th-grade students in low-performing New York City schools who read about Albert Einstein’s struggles, including multiple school changes and trouble convincing others that gravity from a large object like a planet could actually bend light, performed better in science than a control group who learned only about what the scientists achieved.

Xiaodong Lin-Siegler, an associate professor of cognitive studies at Columbia University’s Teachers College who led the study, told Quartz that the results surprised her. The experiment could have gone two ways, she explained: Learning that Einstein or Curie struggled could lead kids to throw up their hands and say “if Einstein can’t do it, then I certainly can’t either.” Or, it might inspire them by showing that everyone—even the greats—face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

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The suggestion is that textbooks should describe scientists’ failures, not just their accomplishments, study finds (here). This is a learning hack, if people can relate to someone or something, like being able to make mistakes and overcome them, they’re more likely to attempt things, take risks and get to a goal. From physical to mental, if you can see yourself doing something, you’re more likely to attempt to do it. One of the things everyone has experienced is going to the gym or watching someone run and thinking “there’s no way I could lift/do/run/that” – knowing the struggle and challenges is what gives permission in our minds to do things it seems.