TITLE: Confusion is the Sweat of Learning AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 18, 2016 11:27 AM DESC: ----- BODY: That's a great line from Rhett Allain in Telling You the Answer Isn't the Answer:
Students are under the impression that when they are stuck and confused, they are doing something wrong. Think of it this way. What if you went to the gym to work out but you didn't get sweaty and you weren't sore or tired? You would probably feel like you really didn't get any exercise. The same is true for learning. Confusion is the sweat of learning.
As I read the article, I was a little concerned that Allain's story comes from a physics course designed for elementary education majors... Shouldn't education majors already know that learning is hard and that the teacher's job isn't simply to give answers? But then I realized how glad I am that these students have a chance to learn this lesson from a teacher who is patient enough to work through both the science and the pedagogy with them. One of the biggest challenges for a teacher is designing workouts that ride along a thin line: confusing students just enough to stretch them into learning something valuable, without working them so hard that they become disheartened by the confusion and failure. This is hard enough to do when working with students individually. The larger and more diverse a class is, the more the teacher has to start shooting for the median, designing materials that work well enough often enough for most of the students and then doing triage with students on both ends of the curve. Another is helping students learn to appreciate the confusion, perhaps even relish it. The payoff is worth the work. -----