When the struggle gets real, students are learning, instructional coach Shannon McGrath writes for Edutopia, detailing how teachers often try to help during these moments of student confusion by continuing to explain when the best response is to remain silent as the student works through the problem.
Struggle is a critical component to learning a skill or concept, but when embracing it, McGrath suggests first explaining to students what you are doing and why in order to prepare them so they won’t be discouraged.
McGrath urges teachers to reduce their talk time, observe students' learning to determine what skills the students are using and where they may need help, and eliminate teacher dependence by encouraging students to seek help from others before asking the teacher.
Allowing students to struggle develops social-emotional traits like grit and perseverance. Students who show they can persevere through setbacks and are eager to start new projects are likely on the path to developing grit, according a study by Claremont Graduate University doctoral candidate Dana Wanzer. Wanzer found those predictors of grit can be correlated to a students’ school experiences and level of engagement at school.
Thanks to feedback from employers, educators now realize social-emotional learning and skills may be as important to future success as core subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic. Employers say the most sought-after qualities are treating others well, sustaining effort, getting along with colleagues and maintaining composure.
Grit may be a valuable asset to have in the workforce, but some argue it is not the magic answer in the classroom. Teacher-turned-psychologist Angela Duckworth, a grit advocate, defines it as passion and perseverance for achieving longterm goals. Author Linda F. Nathan, however, argues grit favors the wealthy, with ideas like “money is not an obstacle” and “just work harder” not working when applied to low-income students.
Martin Credé, a social psychologist at Iowa State University, also dismisses grit, saying schools should not be focusing in that area because he doesn’t think it’s related to academic success. He believes perseverance is important, but one doesn't necessarily need to be passionate about something in order to be good at it.