Many children, when confronted with an unfamiliar problem or challenge, dismiss it as too hard, say “I can’t do it,” or “you never taught me this.” They make no attempt to solve the problem or address the situation unless they can clearly see a path for resolution. In other words, they must know beforehand, that they will be successful. A primary goal of the learning process is training ourselves to look at a problem with an open mind, observe carefully what we know, assess what we don’t and determine a strategy of attack. When students embrace this philosophy, they take risks, make mistakes and truly understand that real learning can only happen when failure is a part of the process. Through bouts of frustration, uncertainty and confusion, passion and perseverance will be our guide.
As Philip worked incessantly for fifty minutes on a difficult math problem, I bent down to offer encouragement and noticed what he had written at the top of his paper.
This has become our mantra.