Home » Biology Rocks Edition 2.2 » You’ve Got It Backward: Hard Is Learning

You’ve Got It Backward: Hard Is Learning


Now is the point in the year when classroom culture really starts to take root. Students in all of my classes have heard my rhetoric on mindset and revision so much that they’ve finally started to see it working. Students have endured struggle, experienced growth and are now internalizing their perception of the process and re-expressing their own interpretation of what our class is about. It’s a beautiful and compelling process.

What is most interesting to me is when students identify questions or uncertainties within our growth model that prompt nuanced and challenging debate regarding how they learn. This week a student asked me why I love to see them struggle. Many teachers likely hear this question in some form from students, but this time it was different. The student wasn’t seeking laziness or escape, she was honestly asking why her struggle was preferable to just telling her the “answer”. We dropped everything and had that discussion right then and there! (If you’re not familiar with why struggle in the classroom is so important, here’s the data.)


Students should struggle! But in a significant way.

My student was finally ready to consider how school fit into her life in a meaningful way. Her learning in class wasn’t a task that must happen, but was instead something that might fit into what she actually wanted to do with her life. She had questions. We didn’t resolve her existential conflict in that period, but we did validate her consideration of her own life path in a way she likely had never gotten before.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review has given a fresh summary of why students should struggle in the classroom, and I share it because they’ve given some concrete examples of how Harvard implements the philosophy of a growth mindset into specific learning opportunities for students in specific classes.

The way our classroom feels and runs is solidifying at this point in the year. My classroom is one of glorious struggle! How does student challenge fit into your daily operation? Can you improve the perception of students struggling, before it’s too late?

Interested in reading more about making your classroom a little more challenging? Michael wrote this post about adopting struggle in your classroom culture.


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