If I Am “Smart,” Do I Have to Work Hard?

A bunch of learning questions have been running through my mind today:

  • If I am “smart,” do I have to work hard?
  • If I have trouble at “learning,” do I have to work hard?
  • Can kids learn to be better learners?
  • Can adults learn to be better learners?
  • Can kids learn to play soccer together?
  • Can we become more intelligent?
  • If we put the time and can we become more intelligent?
  • If we put the time in, can we become fluent in another language or music or a sport…?
  • If I have not learned something, is it that I have not learned it yet? Or that I can’t learn it…?

I think these questions, answered honestly, would tell us a lot about our educational practices and how we approach learning.

Am I a “teacher” that disseminates the information? (Sounds like using Google…)

Or am I an “educator” that is an “Activator of Thinking?” Is it my role to enable kids to learn? If the students did not learn it, who needs to worry about that?

This all comes back to our conceptions of assessment and reporting as well. What is the report card intended to do and why do we put all this work into them? What is our purpose in them? The analogy that guides my thinking is:

“Who do kids learn more from, the COACH or the JUDGE?”

Is it the number at the end that the judge gives me on my performance that I learned from? Or, if thinking about professional sports players, is it the hours of video watched and critiqued, the work with the coach to improve, the formative feedback from coaches and teammates, the intent to improve their abilities and skills, and the discussions before, during, and after the practice or game that make all the difference? Or the score in the end? Without the other stuff, the score will not be affected…

Seems like a pretty easy question, but we need to make sure that we are utilizing this thinking with all of our students. In the end it is up to us as to how we approach learning and reporting. If we are designing great learning opportunities, do they have:

  • clear learning intentions
  • challenging success criteria
  • range of learning strategies
  • know when students are not progressing
  • providing feedback
  • visibly learns themselves

SO, how do we help all kids to know that they need to work hard? Not “You are smart so you don’t need to work hard…”

Work hard and learn tons!


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