Learning something new is always challenging, especially if you’ve always done something one way or are convinced your inefficient way is correct. This is true of both adults and children.
Here is an example: A third/fourth grade teacher asked me the following question: “What do you say to a student who thinks his answers are ALWAYS correct even when I prove he is wrong by giving examples of the correct math solutions and by other students demonstrating the correct answers by their methods?”
ALWAYS keep in mind that the person who asks the question controls the situation.
The only way this child will change is by having him continually reflect. With reflection comes learning and change. The skill required here is in asking questions that will have him do so.
So, what question(s) can you ask? Here are a few that immediately come to my mind:
– How do you know that your answer is correct?
– What’s the worst that can happen if you make a mistake?
– What would you do if you found out that someone else made a mistake and is afraid to say so?
(The Resource Guide has many pages of effective, reflective questions.)
Here are a few additional suggestions that will help with reflection and learning:
– Emphasize what I teach in my education book: you cannot learn and be perfect at the same time.
– Let the student know that anyone who is easily embarrassed has a challenge in learning. People who want to learn understand that you cannot learn if you are more concerned about being embarrassed.
– Start each conversation with the child with some kind of sincere compliment.
Tip: Always being perfect or right is stressful. The key to learning is reflection. That’s the surest way to bring about change and new ideas.
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