Practically and reliably? No. I have as much likelihood to help a student who says, “I'm confused about everything,” as I have throwing a dart at a dartboard with my eyes closed.
Can you get a bullseye on a dartboard with your eyes closed? Yes.
Can you get better at getting bullseyes if you practice blind dart throwing a lot? Yes.
But is this the best way to get a dart to the bullseye?
For sure not.
We're better off, it turns out, if we throw darts with our eyes opened.
Which means we've got to relentlessly teach our students how to identify where, exactly, they are getting confused.
No. Not easy. This is very hard — especially in cases where a student has learned over the years that saying “I'm confused” is a shortcut to getting the teacher to do the work for you. You don't need to mildly electrocute dogs (😢) to know what learned helplessness looks like in a classroom.
But colleague, which of the following is harder?
- Working each day to help your students identify specific confusion points; OR
- Throwing your hands up when they say, “I'm confused about everything!” and then A) giving up on them in your own demonstration of learned helplessness or B) giving them the shortcut that they've learned often comes when they present as helpless?
It's Option 1, all day.
So, this is my question for you today: how do you work to help students sharpen general confusion into the specific and actionable kind?
P.S. This is the kind of thing we're working through in the first cohort of the Principles of Learning Course. You can join that community today.