Week 3: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?
To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves? I think you should give as much extent to the kids as possible to figure things out themselves. I think students will learn much more when they figure things out themselves. If we always rescue students from getting frustrated them they will not be able to handle situations where they have to figure things out on their own and they don’t have a teacher to fall back on.
Sydney Berman from the article, “What Is The value Of Letting Students Struggle” writes, “My position was that acquiring vocabulary is more meaningful when students do it themselves in context with what they’re reading and that learning to use resources available to them is more important than any particular vocabulary word.” I agree with her. I think learning to use resources if very important and it is a skill they need to know how to use throughout their school years. She also points out that if material is not assessable to students that they give up easy. I have seen this first hand in my classroom with assignments. A student will ask to know what something means. I tell them to look it up in the dictionary and they don’t want to. They want the answer right now. She also makes a good point about students more accustomed to struggling have the skills to tackle new material and less likely to give up.
It appears that in the interests of having students succeed, we sometimes spoon-fed our students too much information and ask for little in return (Seely, 2009). I see this with our students know and I am guilty of it as well. I often spoon feed my students because I want to make sure that they understand the directions and are not confused. I give them step-by-step directions and often do it with them so they can follow along. I don’t want my students to get frustrated and give up. I know I am helping some students but also disabling some students as well by taking away the challenge of figuring out things for themselves. So the question is when do I let them struggle and when do I guide them?
Seely (2009) writes, “The business community tells us the ability and willingness to tackle a problem that is not easily solved is one of the most important traits in the twenty century.” I want my students to be ready for the business world when they graduate. I need to find constructive struggling where I provide questions but not give them the answers. I need to let my students struggle some.
I know first hand that struggling helps the students to learn more and appreciate their learning more. When I first started my technology classes everything was new for me, from creating a blog, twitter, creating an infographic, and other assignments that I did. I was struggling and getting frustrated. Lee helped me but she was not there to show me. I had to struggle and figure things out for myself. It took awhile but I did not give up and finally figured it out. I was so proud of myself and now see the value of struggling. I just need to take what I learned and bring it in my classroom so my students can see the value of struggling. I want them to struggle some not because I don’t care about them and want to see them frustrated but because I do and believe they can accomplish it and succeed. Once they succeed they will have the greatest feeling of accomplishment and that is what I want for my students.
Seeley, C. (2009). Constructive Struggling. Retrieved May 31, 2015, from http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/9781935099031_message17.pdf
Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, Calif.: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
What is the value of letting students struggle in class? Teachers answer. (2015). Retrieved May 29, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/21/what-is-the-value-of-letting-students-struggle-in-class-teachers-answer/