Preparing Students for Productive Struggle in Life
Posted On:
Thursday, November 20, 2014
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“Preparing Students for Productive Struggle in Life”

     Life, as all of us know, continues to change in the twenty-first century. Socially, we connect with each other using different means outside of the traditional face-to-face meetings or phone calls. Facebook, twitter, and other social media outlets utilized through the internet have greatly connected us all. Economically, our workforce needs have changed tremendously. Employers are challenging workers to utilize higher-order thinking skills, to lead, and to rationalize in an attempt to promote the highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency. With all of this being said, educators have no choice but to change traditional methods of instruction in an effort to fully engage students and enhance their learning. Recent research clearly points out that students in the twenty-first century need to learn the following enduring skills in school:

·         Critical thinking and problem-solving

·         Collaboration and leadership

·         Agility and adaptability

·         Initiative and entrepreneurialism

·         Effective oral and written communication

·         Accessing and analyzing information

·         Curiosity and imagination

     In an effort to fully prepare students for the twenty-first century world, educators today must think outside of the box and utilize non-traditional approaches in the classroom. Students need to engage in productive struggle, persevering through obstacles to accomplish a goal or task, in order to fully develop their learning. One way to accomplish this task is to embrace a growth mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning. These individuals embrace challenges, learn from criticism, persevere through setbacks, and they want to learn more in order to achieve high levels of success. Unfortunately, there is the temptation for individuals to stay in a fixed mindset. These individuals believe that a person has a predetermined amount of intelligence, skills, and talents. People with this mindset avoid challenges, ignore criticism, see effort as pointless, give up easily, and tend to never reach their full potential.

     In order for students to excel, educators working in schools and districts today must subject students to productive struggle, teaching how to persevere through challenges. Engaging students in rigorous coursework in school and helping them develop a love for learning early in life are essential to entering the twenty-first century work force ready and willing to meet its challenges. School communities play a large role in this process as well. Parents, family members, and community members can promote the success of all by encouraging students to own their learning and to embrace challenges ahead of them. Educators also need encouragement to continue moving away from traditional, comfortable instructional practices and to challenge students to engage in deeper levels of learning. Focusing on promoting a growth mindset in students, educators, parents, and community members will allow for all to embrace productive struggle and achieve the highest levels of success moving forward in the twenty first century.

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