Normalizing Struggle: Building our better self

Her fists were clenched. She tried to tame the tears that were so close from storming out. Maybe disguising her anguish as indifference would do the trick.

It didn’t.

She was staring at her unfinished work, drowning at the task at hand. What the task was doesn’t matter. How she felt does.

– “I just can’t do this” – she whispered to me as I approached her desk. “It’s too hard. I’m not smart enough”

– “Nobody gets it perfect the first time”, I said. But it did not convince her.

– “Oh, yes they do. Most of them. Just not me. I don’t want to do this anymore”

What was she afraid of? You name it. The giggles. The shame. The flunk. Maybe the biggest fear was to face, once more, the perceived confirmation that she was not good enough. Failure is painful, and we naturally reject what hurts.

How do we better instill an idea of risk taking and struggle in students? How can we better humanize success and show that it’s a matter of diligence rather than talent?

You have not failed until you give up

The first step in preserving a risk-taking mentality in our students is to take the “failure” out of the “struggle”. The world’s greatest scientists, inventors and artists reached the skies after years of sustained effort. However, they have been romanticized by history and media as born-that-way geniuses. The truth is, every child has the seed of genius within – dedication and hard work is what eventually will make them fly.

A supportive environment to thrive

You would not jump into the void without some sort of a safety net: that is called calculated risk. Our students will weigh in the possible outcomes for being daring and bold in their academic pursuits. If there is a big chance that they will fall prey to ridicule, most likely they will not go for it. Let’s promote a supportive school environment that values trying as well as achieving, and process as well as results.

We should also recognize and even cherish our own struggles: If, instead, we run away and hide them from our students, we are strengthening the idea that struggling is a shameful deviation from achievement, instead of a powerful opportunity for growth.

Yidan Prize winner Carol Dweck has extensive research showing that intelligent people are not just born smart: kids can identify their current achievements and then work towards improving, actually getting smarter.

When you teach about the great characters from history, science and art, be sure to portray the whole stories: the pains as well as the gains, the human side entwined with the brilliance, the challenges along with the glory.

It’s not about minimizing struggle, it’s about normalizing it. When we take failure out of the equation and embrace struggling as part of the journey, learning becomes again the joyous, stimulating gift it was always meant to be.

As part of C.M. Rubin’s Top Global Teacher Bloggers, this is my response to this month’s question: How do we better instill an idea of risk taking and struggle in students? How can we better humanize success and show that it’s a matter of diligence rather than talent?

Helping our students embrace diversity

The first step to accept and embrace diversity is knowledge.

We human beings are wired to detect and act upon whatever could threaten our existence. This comes as part of our survival instinct. If we hear a sudden, loud noise, we jump in fear. For a split second, we don’t know if the sound comes from a firing gun or worse – and our whole body prepares for flight or fight. Then we realize it was just a truck exhaust and we sigh in relief, our heart still pounding furiously inside or chests. But knowledge rises above instinct, and as we know it’s highly unlikely that this particular truck is set to kill us (unless of course we are to find ourselves crushed under its wheels), we disregard the threat and keep on to our business.

DiversityAnything that we don’t know well could be a potential risk – not just for our lives but also for our ways of living. Human beings are cautious or even up-front reluctant about whatever is unknown or different. Including other people!

So, How can you help students accept and work well with people of different beliefs, cultures, languages, socio-economic statuses, education backgrounds, and learning styles? Here are some ideas.

Open their world – and you will open their minds. Get them to know and ultimately respect as many different cultures as possible. Don’t neglect to explore your own community as well.

Create the environment. Even in very homogeneous schools, some diversity will always arise. But our school environment could be one that crushes it down – for example, presenting one single viewpoint as the truth, discouraging open discussion about certain issues or favoring just one approach to learning. Be open, inclusive and caring.

Set the example. If you have a preference for working with certain type of students, if you loose your patience with the slower kid in your class, if you openly dislike a colleague or parent, if you are biased in any way, even if you don’t say a word, it will show.

Don’t force it. Don’t think that you are doing a favor to the odd kid in class by forcing his classmates to work with him. It might be even worse. Instead, plan projects in which students can either work alone, in pairs or small groups. Offer incentives to those collaborating and creating new alliances: Bonus points if they team up with different classmates every project!

Act it up. Drama and storybooks are wonderful to create awareness for diversity. Cast your students in roles that are different and challenging. Encourage them to try to “become” the personage by actively exploring the feelings and beliefs behind the costume.Diversity flags

Empathy is an art. I like Harvard’s Artful Thinking Tools from Project Zero. The protocol called “Circle of viewpoints” specifically promotes exploring multiple perspectives to a problem by actively analyzing a work of art.

Above all, engage in caring relationships with your students. This will make them feel accepted and safe – which in turn will give them the confidence to venture outside of their own limits and work well with others – no matter how different they might be.


This is my answer to this month’s question for The Global Search for Education: Top Global Teacher Bloggers.

How do we inspire the best and the brightest (BB) to become educators?

Aprendizaje, motivación y políticas públicas

By Eduardo Andere M. PhD.

“The Package”

Nuevos maestrosTeachers from around the world, including those from the US, in public or private schools, think that the advantages of being a teacher clearly outweigh the disadvantages, that if they could decide again they would still choose to work as teachers, that they wouldn’t like to change to another school if that were possible, that they don’t regret that they decided to become teachers, that they enjoy working in the school they are currently working, that they don’t think they would have been better had they decided to choose another profession, that they would recommend their current school as a good place to work, that they are satisfied with the performance in their schools, and that all in all they are satisfied with their job. The only negative thing they agree with is that the teaching profession is not valued in their society

Ver la entrada original 447 palabras más

La Organización Mundial para el Potencial Humano

En este mes de Mayo 2015 se celebró el 60 aniversario de The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. En este marco, y dentro de las actividades de la reunión anual de la Organización para el Potencial Humano, fui honrada con la Medalla Raymundo Veras de Humanidad y Ciencia.

Los Institutos para el Logro del Potencial Humano

60 years IAHPEl 6 de Mayo, Los Institutos para el Logro del Potencial Humano comenzaron la celebración de seis décadas de trabajo en el campo del desarrollo cerebral infantil. Se colgaron banderas alrededor del campus de Los Institutos conmemorando al staff que ayudó a establecer a Los Institutos como los conocemos hoy.

La Ceremonia de las banderas marca el comienzo de la Reunión Anual de la Organización Mundial para el Potencial Humano La Ceremonia de las banderas marca el comienzo de la Reunión Anual de la Organización Mundial para el Potencial Humano

El Dr. Adolfo Panfili hace una presentación práctica con el Dr. Ferruccio Guidi y con nuestro esqueleto como asistente El Dr. Adolfo Panfili hace una presentación práctica con el Dr. Ferruccio Guidi y con nuestro esqueleto como asistente

La semana pasada se reunieron desarrolladores del cerebro infantil, educadores y científicos a la 60a Reunión de la Organización Mundial para el Potencial Humano. Esta Organización existe para acelerar el progreso de los niños del mundo hacia el logro de su potencial, para condenar las costumbre y prácticas que son claramente dañinas para el progreso de los niños del mundo…

Ver la entrada original 432 palabras más

Globalidad en la Educación y Educación para la Globalidad

El Dr. Eduardo Andere presentará comentarios sobre la Globalidad en la Educación, como introducción a la conferencia Educar para un mundo global, Lunes 27 de Abril en el Salón Galería A del Hotel Galería Plaza Reforma, en México DF, en punto de las 6pm

Aprendizaje, motivación y políticas públicas

Globalidad en la Educación y Educación para la Globalidad

Dr. Eduardo Andere M.

IMG_7621 ¿Cambia la educación con los tiempos? O simplemente es lo mismo con diferentes nombres. ¿Es la educación del siglo XXI diferente a la educación del siglo XX? ¿Es realmente cierto que nos estamos McDonaldizando? ¿Debemos autoridades, educadores, padres de familia y expertos preocuparnos por el tema de la globalidad? ¿Existen las escuelas globales, los maestros globales, los estudiantes globales, los hogares globales, la educación global, la cultura global?

IMG_2448No cabe duda que el crecimiento del comercio mundial, del tránsito de personas y de la comunicación a través de las tecnologías de información, almacenamiento y distribución de datos, han invadido los espacios culturales de las naciones de todo el orbe. La pregunta es si esta invasión ha logrado implantar nuevos valores y hábitos sobre los propios de las localidades, las familias, la vida cotidiana. La imparable fuerza de…

Ver la entrada original 110 palabras más

Los números de 2014: ¡Llegamos a 86 países con este blog!

Los duendes de las estadísticas de prepararon un informe sobre el año 2014 de este blog.

Aquí hay un extracto:

La sala de conciertos de la Ópera de Sydney contiene 2.700 personas. Este blog ha sido visto cerca de 56.000 veces en 2014. Si fuera un concierto en el Sydney Opera House, se se necesitarían alrededor de 21 presentaciones con entradas agotadas para que todos lo vean.

Haz click para ver el reporte completo.

Programa Novedoso de Educación Preescolar: Elisa Guerra y Pearson de México

Muchas gracias al Dr. Eduardo Andere por su artículo sobre nuestro proyecto Pearson-Filadelfia

Aprendizaje, motivación y políticas públicas

Programa Novedoso y Detallado de Educación Preescolar

de la Maestra Elisa Guerra y

Pearson de México

Cada año miles de padres de familia llevan a sus niños a las escuelas. Llevar a los niños a las escuelas por primera vez es uno de los eventos más memorables de la vida de mamás y papás. Y casi siempre casi todos los papás nos preguntamos, ¿Cuál es la mejor escuela para mis niños? ¿Quién me puede decir qué preescolar o qué escuela, es la mejor para mis pequeños?

Alrededor del mundo incontables páginas se han escrito sobre las características de las mejores escuelas; e interminables son también los artículos y libros que escriben recomendaciones de todo tipo.

Con el advenimiento de mejores imágenes intracraneales (imageneología) la neurociencia en diversas ramas, nos ha permitido conocer mejor el funcionamiento del sistema encefálico nervioso en los procesos cognitivos, emocionales y ejecutivos, relacionados con el aprendizaje.

Ver la entrada original 750 palabras más