cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Monday, March 21, 2016

What to do when strong students struggle

Jessica Lahey just posted this column on the New York Times web site and I think it may be the most important read I have seen for parents of the kinds of students I teach:

   http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/how-can-you-make-a-student-care-enough-to-work-harder/?_r=0

All students encounter struggle. Even strong students struggle. And when this happens, parents often ask me how they can make their child care more about doing better in math.

The only answer I know — the only answer I trust — is that you have to be willing to allow them to struggle.

Only then can they truly own their own success.

If they don't own their own failure, then they can't own their own success.

The eminent child psychologist Rudolf Dreikurs wrote about this more than 50 years ago, and it is as true now as it was then. You have to step back and let them own it. Dreikurs called this the practice of using natural and logical consequences. If the child doesn't own the problem, then s/he cannot own the solution.

I also love Dr. Charlotte Kasl's framing of this. She calls it the "Good luck with that!" response. I have seen this approach be very successful with students who have internalized a kind of passivity or learned helplessness that drives adults crazy. They have learned how to get adults to rescue them.

I think of this not as "tough love" or "grit" or a growth mindset. I think this is about the practice of maintaining — and helping adolescents learn how to maintain — strong, healthy boundaries.


3 comments:

  1. Beautifully said, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing. Some great things to think about...

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  2. I love how you succinctly mention the ownership of the struggle. How can we expect students to own the solution if they don't learn to own the problem? That extra wait time, and allowing ourselves to be reminded that the nurture shock also applies to teaching, is key! Thanks for the great post!

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  3. I love how you succinctly mention the ownership of the struggle. How can we expect students to own the solution if they don't learn to own the problem? That extra wait time, and allowing ourselves to be reminded that the nurture shock also applies to teaching, is key! Thanks for the great post!

    ReplyDelete