Self-belief

One of the things that fascinates me the most about teaching is the extent to which self-esteem and self-efficacy influence a child’s ability to learn. I have students that do remarkable things but are self-effacing to the point of negativity. I also come across kids with an hyperbolic sense of self even though, well, they’re just everyday people. And then we have all combinations and everything in between.

I consider an advanced student in my class to be someone who doesn’t easily get thrown off track by relatively minor failures, yet is able to recognize them and not make excuses for why they have occurred. If failure is not an issue, it’s like exponential learning.

It’s not surprising that self-confidence seems to equal more positive risk taking. That’s why, when I give feedback to students, I try my best to stress the positive in their work or behaviour. It’s an essential ingredient if you want to become someone that adapts to change quickly; optimism. When describing next steps, I try hard to be as practical as possible as well. To be honest, that’s one of the hardest parts of the job. It takes a lot of energy to be doing assessment like that every day. I often question whether I’m doing it well.

What do you do to foster a positive outlook in the people you work with or teach?

What can we learn from Video Games?

This is a screenshot from my iPhone of my daughter’s favourite game, Pocket Chef. She was begging me to let her play it today while I was trying to read Collins and Halverson’s Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology for our www.edbookclub.com. As I fended off her pleas while ironically reading the book’s section on the potential of video games in education, I wondered about a couple of things.

What is it about video games that seemingly make kids more resilient to challenges and adversity than in real life classroom problem solving situations?

What makes them persevere through tasks even though it can be as difficult not to burn the virtual burgers as it is to figure out ‘how much money was left in Sabrina’s wallet after going to the store at the mall’?

Why don’t we necessarily see the same resolve and self-efficacy when solving a math story problem as we do when needing to conquer, say, a virtual WWII setting?

If there are any answers to these questions, I have a feeling they are connected to Dan Meyer’s awesome TED talk on 21st Century Math Educational Reform:

As it stands right now, I am less interested in the potential for video games to deliver curriculum than I am in the secrets to motivation, feedback, and intellectual rigour they seem to conceal.

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