Benefits of Struggling
By Terri White
Over the past few years, I have noticed an increase in students – public, private, and homeschooled – who lack the fortitude to struggle when learning new skills. At first, I blamed it on the increased use of electronics.
However, I’ve instead concluded that many parents and educators do not realize that struggling is a part of learning.
Let’s look at a four-year-old working on a puzzle while Mommy sits by. Junior fiddles with a piece, turning it several different ways. No success. Finally, Mommy grows impatient or feels sorry for Junior and guides the puzzle piece into place.
Then there’s fifteen-year-old Lisa working on an essay. Dad reads the rough draft. Instead of asking questions that guide Lisa to think for herself, Dad explains exactly how to edit the essay.
What about Robert? He’s reading his literature and required to answer the questions at the end of the story. However, he complains that he can’t find the answers. So the parent proceeds to find the answers for him.
Do you see a pattern? Do you see the problem?
Most of us have watched a one-year-old struggle to walk. He stands, tentatively takes a step or two, and then promptly pops down. It never occurs to him to stop trying. Almost immediately he’s at it again and again and yet again. Struggling all the way until he masters the art of walking.
Struggling forces the brain to work. Struggling creates new paths in the brain. Struggling creates stamina, fortitude, determination. Struggling creates problem solvers.
Does this mean that we don’t guide our children? Of course not! However, it does not mean that we think for them. But it does mean that we accept less than perfect results.
The good news? Continued practice always improves skills.