Home › Forums › Why Don’t Students Like School? By Daniel T. Willingham › Chapter 1 › Impressions
Give your impressions of this chapter. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? What made you pause and think or scratch your head?
I really enjoyed both the content and format of this chapter. The way the author lays out the problem before discussing classroom implications keeps me engaged, and consolidates all of the information nicely. The concept of the brain being designed to avoid thinking rather than engage in it was very interesting to me. Normally I like to believe that a part of being human is getting blessed with the ability to think and reason, but Willingham contradicts this ideology. The fact that we, as a species, aren’t good at thinking, but we continue to think anyways is a testament to our curiosity, according to the author. This to me seems like a powerful notion, and is something that can really be fostered in a classroom setting. The key way to do this is to find the “sweet spot” of difficulty for each student individually. Going forward, i would like to learn more about this aspect, and particularly how to accommodate for many different ability levels in one space at one time.
That idea of our brains not being designed to think has always stuck with me. After reading this chapter, do you agree with Willingham on that?
I thought that chapter one was a very interesting read. I really like how it is written in more of a scientific view point, before relating to the classroom. Coming from a healthcare major, I find this way more fascinating, especially compared to other education books I have read for my minor. I too thought it was pretty shocking that humans were not designed to think, but rather to avoid thinking. It also makes me feel better to know this fact about myself, realizing Im not actually lazy, its just a design flaw. As a educator I think that this is important to know, because we should reinforce the positive feeling a student gets when they think, and solve a problem. That will make them more willing to try more problems to gain that feeling of success again. I am curious to know where a students breaking point is cognitively? How do you push a student enough, without getting them so frustrated that they do not want to learn anymore?
In early childhood theory, Vygotsky called it the Zone of Proximal Development – the sweet spot that pushes beyond what a person can do easily and what is completely unattainable independently. The HOW is the tricky part, for sure!!
I thought that this chapter was very interesting and definitely a different look into learning and school. I have never thought about how the brain is not meant to think. I always have been curious about differences in learning styles and that aspect of the brain but it has never crossed my mind that thinking is not one of the main functions of the brain. I think one of the important points that the author made was reactions to solving problems. When you are able to solve problems, dopamine makes you feel good versus when you cannot solve a problem you become frustrated. This is something very important to remember with our students as well. I thought it was very interesting that we rely so heavily on memory for our daily activities as well as problems that arise. This is especially important when working with young children, as their memories are not the same as ours. The last few pages of the chapter were meaningful to me and my future teaching. I have a new understanding of how to pose problems and tend to the students’ cognitive functioning.
A lot of this chapter made me re-think how we teach reading comprehension as well as the idea of metacognition. I now sit there and see why students always still have such puzzled looks on their faces. Reading comprehension to me seems easy, because I can identify the times when I have light bulbs go off as I go through a novel, or a great mystery. The way the author describes it, I may inadvertently store information into my memory that it gets triggered later when more clues are revealed, but I rarely see the light bulbs go off in student’s heads unless we spoon-feed so much, then they automatically get it. But this takes away the opportunity to build persistence.
Keeping the diary seems like an important idea in theory, but not one that is very feasible in practice. I can think back to a different student-teaching opportunity (much more successful!) where the school had it set-up that students did three weeks of science and three weeks of social studies, so you only had to plan for a three-week block, since the second three-week block were different students. You got to cover the same material again! My cooperating teacher and I were able to identify what did not work in the first three-week period, so when I became the lead teacher, all of the “kinks” were worked out, and set me up for success.
On a day to day period, I think in the moment we think, “awesome that totally worked how I wanted it to,” but I think it would benefit us to sit down and reflect on, why did this work? How do I recreate this moment in the future? That becomes difficult.
I really enjoyed this first chapter! I really appreciate the way that Willingham formatted the book…as someone who is a visual learner with a short attention, the graphics and puzzles were strategically placed in ways that kept my attention better than other books!
As I read the chapter, I had a few moments were a light bulb went off in my mind. I hadn’t ever thought about successful thinking with regards to the chemicals that are released in our brains. It makes perfect sense that dopamine is released when we are appropriately challenged and are able to solve a problem. It is much more rewarding to be able to figure something out than to just be given the answer and the concept becomes more solidified in your memory when you learn this way as well.
I kept coming back to the idea of how crucial the role of the environment that we create in our classrooms is in our students being successful. We are responsible for nurturing our students’ growth and supplying them with the tools that they need to succeed. I think it is important to remember that they can only hold so much in their memories so when we present them with a challenge we should do the small things like putting information on the board for them so that they are able to figure out the problem.
There’s that word “nurturing” again! I’m not sure what Willingham would say but I think we can work toward defining that word further together.
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