Saturday, February 09, 2008

Puzzled

My son has really been into puzzles lately.

When I say 'in' I mean that almost every evening we pull out a box, spill it on the floor and start putting it back together again. As we're playing, the teacher in me wants to keep nudging, guiding or (what I consider) helping him find the place for each piece. I have to make myself stop 'helping' and let him try forcing a piece somewhere it won't go or try, fail and get frustrated with the same piece until . . . ahhhh, it fits.

This nightly practice has made me think about teaching and how in our genuine effort to help our students, we find it realllly hard to watch them stub their toe when we know it's coming and we can stop it. With a word sometimes we know we can guide them, but we have to let them fail successfully, and learn in the process. There's a great quote by Garr Reynolds,"The destructive process is part of the creative process." If the work students are doing, doesn't provide the rigor where mistakes are expected, understood as part of the process and built on, how do they learn.

Of course they must be expected to move beyond the setback, but when it's existence is understood to be part of the route students must take to complete the task, well lets just say it's a lot more meaningful to them when they're done.


Thanks to Sharon Peters linking me to Miguel Guhlin's presentation which got me thinking about all of this.