Why do methods of teaching kids need to learn to struggle? As adults we all know the most rewarding experiences in life often involve significant struggle and sacrifice at some stage. We are very happily married, but that doesn’t mean we are always very happy with one another. I like chocolate and since turning 30 my metabolism can’t burn 50,000 calories as easily as it used to.
Without the ability to struggle life becomes very limited. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Bachelorette, but I hope people aren’t talking about it at my funeral. So how do we help our students not just cope with struggle, but to thrive with it? Students will need scrap paper and a pair of scissors to attempt to make the structure themselves. Instruct students they cannot touch the structure, but they are encouraged to move around it and view it from all angles. Encourage students to discuss their ideas and methods as they go, but if they are successful, they are to keep their method to themselves.
Students are then challenged to make the structure. Don’t offer any advice or encouragement once the students begin. My brother challenged me to make it one Christmas day and it nearly resulted in World War III until he finally told me the answer. While the kids are working on it walk around the classroom and monitor their behaviour and language. I write down the language I hear and take photos of the kids working. After seven or so minutes I start writing the language I have heard on the whiteboard, with no names attached. I don’t say anything while I write all the language on the board.
Some kids stop and read, others keep doing what they’re doing. If a student says something else interesting as I write that goes up as well. Once you think the kids have had enough get them to stop building and turn their attention to the board. Was the first ten seconds of trying much different from the last ten seconds?
What was it like when someone else got it? How many attempts did you take? How long did you look at the structure before you first started? How many breaks did you take?