Allowing Students to ‘Figure it Out’

Too often, well-meaning teachers foster risk-aversion and over-dependence.

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  1. Allow students to propose their own assignments. Don’t feel you need to give limitless direction. Students need structure. But they also need freedom to explore what matters to them, within the context of a given subject. In my experience, students tend to perform best when they care and are invested in an endeavor. Experiment with how much control you feel comfortable giving up.
  2. Don’t answer questions students can easily find the answers to themselves. It’s not that students are lazy. They are digital-natives, living in an era of instant gratification. Rather than give in, teachers should encourage students to look online for helpful resources. This fosters independence and resourcefulness, essential life skills.

A high school history and journalism teacher from Massachusetts.

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