Friday, August 11, 2023

Do You Remember Struggling to Learn?

Dave Largent, a CS professor at Ball State University, had an important reminder on his blog -Dave's not here, or is he?: Teachers need to struggle to learn ( Our students often (usually?) struggle to learn new things. I think this is especially true in computer science. We as teachers with lots of content knowledge sometimes struggle to be empathetic. We forget our own struggles.

One if the things Dave struggled with on his trip through Europe was different languages and customs. It’s a reminder to me that many of our students come from different cultures, customs, and languages. It’s a good reminder that examples in American culture and English can add to the struggle. Being aware of where our students come from is important.

I often shared my own story of my first computer class. Greatly did I struggle in that first class. The first couple of projects were only completed with a lot of help from peers and TAs. Things came easier eventually and with a solid and broad base (I have been programming for 51 years now) most new topics are easier. But not always. Having those struggles is character building. And helps develop empathy.

I think that having new experiences that involve struggle to learn is a valuable experience for teachers (anyone really). It also helps us model life long learning for extra value. I encourage everyone to seek out learning experiences that do not come easy.

And above all, remember that our students struggle and we need to be patient with them and support them. Have a great school year!