Essential Question: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?
This week’s essential questions comes down to knowing and understanding your student’s strengths and weaknesses. To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves? I would argue that it depends on the individual student and what is being “figured out”. I have worked with many students who have the never give up attitude and thrive on figuring things out for themselves (in certain subject areas). I have also worked with students who work hard, but then at some point hit a wall in their frustration level, then they shut down and become unwilling to work on anything with or without my help. My point is as an educator I need to be able to make the decisions about how much I can let my students struggle in class. I am in the classroom as a facilitator, coach, and mentor. It is my job to scaffold for students who need it and some students may need a lot, some my need very little, and some may think they need help even when I know they are more than capable of figuring it out on their own. As stated by Weimer (2014), “When they [students] have to come up with examples, answers, or solutions, that’s more work than being told by the teacher, and there’s the added stress of not knowing whether the examples are good, the answers are right, or the solutions correct.”
In the article Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead? Tovia Smith offers advice for changing student mindsets and helping teach perseverance. According to Smith (2014), “The focus is always more on putting out effort than on getting the right answers. Teachers have been trained to change the way they see students, and how they speak to them.” If educators truly want to help teach their students “grit” or perseverance it needs to be a process set up from the first day of school and students need to be aware that they may struggle and fail. Also teachers need to explicitly praise students’ hard work and effort (Smith, 2014). According to Weimer (2014), “Weaning students from their dependence on teachers is a developmental process.” It’s an important skill for students to learn to figure things out for themselves, but it has to done developmentally and gradually into the classroom environment, so students don’t feel like they are being set up for failure.
Edutopia. (2014, April 29). Grit curriculum lesson: The perseverance walk. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.edutopia.org/research-made-relevant-grit-perseverance-walk-video?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=endslate&utm_content=video&utm_campaign=grit
Edutopia. (2014, April 29). Grit curriculum lesson: The perseverance walk. [Video] Retrieved June 2, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=13&v=F6BZ-boSKts
Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
McDade, M. (2013, February 21). Children learn better when they figure things out for themselves. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://news.psu.edu/story/265620/2013/02/21/society-and-culture/children-learn-better-when-they-figure-things-out
Smith, T. (2014, March 17). Does teaching kids to get ‘gritty’ help them get ahead? Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/03/17/290089998/does-teaching-kids-to-get-gritty-help-them-get-ahead
Weimer, M. (2014, September 10). She didn’t teach. We had to learn it ourselves. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/didnt-teach-learn/