Persistence

Persistence: Keep trying… This is something that, some how, we need to show the value of to our students. All too often students give up too soon when tackling a problem. I’ve heard a lot of reasons for this ‘giving up syndrome’  like: they are just lazy, they have been ‘spoon fed’ everything, life is too easy for them, etc… I’m not here to debate the reason many students are not persevering through problems, I just want to give them opportunities to try and see the importance of spending time to really work through a problem to a successful conclusion. Albert Einstein once said:

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

That is the lesson I think we need to give our students.  Braincells may be important, but sticking with a problem is more important. I can’t tell you how many times I have raked my brain for a solution to a problem that I was facing and only after revisiting the problem many times, from many different angles did I come up with a viable solution. Often I find that the answer comes to me when I am walking in the woods, or in the shower. (I call these my ‘shower thoughts’). I think it is because I have a million things crowding up my mind that many times it is only when I take time to relax and really focus on an issue do I look at it in its entirety.

This is what we need to show our students.

  1. That everyone struggles with problems, and everyone can benefit from persevering.  (Model problem solving strategies that you use, so they see the ways that others persevere through problems.)
  2. Take time to allow for perseverance in the classroom. So often we get stuck in the ‘gotta cover the content’. By rushing through the content, you are not doing anyone a service. Students need to see that allotting time to work through a problem is time well spent. They need to see the value in applying knowledge to solve problems.
  3. You can’t just ‘talk the talk’, you as an educator need to ‘walk the walk’. Again, by showing that you value time spent on problem solving is HUGE. Also by not just handing out answers. We can’t be simply the giver of information, we need to be facilitators of information applications and authentic projects embedded into the content.

There was a great post ‘Why ‘do it again’ isn’t enough‘ on Fires in the mind.org about perseverance and why it is important for students to keep trying, but to be deliberate with their efforts. I also love the video they included, which I’m ending with here. The best line: “Don’t whine to me…it’s hard”.

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