Friday, March 16, 2012

Learn 'Em That They Can Be Wrong

I hate the self-esteem pop psychology that masks itself as profound pedagogy.  I also hate the fact that students plan their academic schedules around GPA rather than academic needs or desires.  I believe the easiest way to solve both problems is to mandate that America's Lake Woebegone students, the ones who are above average in every subject on every day, be given at least two "Cs" on their report cards every year, starting in kindergarten.

There may be a small light at the end of the tunnel.  The Answer Sheet blog reports on academic studies that conclude that teaching a student that failure is necessary may help them learn.  One of the studies authors concludes,
“We focused on a widespread cultural belief that equates academic success with a high level of competence and failure with intellectual inferiority. By being obsessed with success, students are afraid to fail, so they are reluctant to take difficult steps to master new material. Acknowledging that difficulty is a crucial part of learning could stop a vicious circle in which difficulty creates feelings of incompetence that in turn disrupts learning.” [emphasis mine]
In other words, if schools and parents create a culture that says some things may be difficult to learn, students may actually learn more..Unfortunately, the study was conducted in France, so I doubt the findings will gain much traction.  Taking an idea from France might hurt Americans self-esteem.

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