We know that neural pathways are strengthened when we challenge ourselves; in maths, pathways are strengthened when we make mistakes, whether we realise this or not. This is thought to be because we tend to make more mistakes when we are challenged. The key is a growth mindset approach (web), where we use these mistakes as a platform for learning.
Two main mechanisms of learning are rote learning, where facts are repeated until remembered, and elaborate learning, where the learner explores concepts until deep understanding is reached. Both mechanisms have a place within a growth mindset classroom. This article about rote and elaborate learning (doc) explains the differences between these types of learning and how they relate to growth mindset.