I learned a lot in school. But there is so much I didn’t learn. Resiliency. Grit. Determination. I had to learn those on my own. Outside the classroom. My struggles were in trying to collect stars for reading books, to get a 100% instead of a 99%, to do a paper over just once more because it wasn’t quite good enough. Struggles I placed on myself that weren’t about learning. At all. When I got out of school, into “the real world,” I found out what struggle was. I had to learn for myself. I found a new definition of what “hard” really was and I had to overcome my struggles with perfectionism to embrace hard.
When I think of classrooms today, I want more for kids than what I had. I want struggle to be theirs. I want determination to be a skill they develop, in that carefully supported environment where they learn to crawl before they walk and where a scrape on the knee gets a band-aid and we move on. Struggle isn’t always pleasant. But, it’s necessary. With practice? Kids can understand that there’s a part of struggle that is enjoyable. That part where you overcome and know that it was yours. You have to own the struggle. As educators, we have to be careful, because we love our students, we sometimes want to steal their struggle. We want to be the relief in their journey.
But when we steal their struggles? We steal their learning.