Struggle. This one word often invokes frustration, annoyance, and hopelessness among students. But why? I always ask my students: What’s so bad about struggle? Tell me about it! What’s the big deal? In fact, I just asked these questions to one of my classes last week. My students often laugh back at me when I ask this (and yes, they laughed last week too :D). I think we all know the answer. My question is neither sarcastic nor rhetorical. It is an earnest attempt at possibly finding answers on why the human mind doesn’t like struggle.
One reason is that it is energy-consuming (as opposed to energy-conserving, a principle of survival). In other words, struggle requires change. The brain undergoes physical changes as the brain cells (neurons) rewire. The emotional parts of the mind need refueling as the mind deals with the patterns of joys and frustrations. Habits of perseverance need to be sustained with action: practice, thinking, practice, thinking, practice.
So, how do we deal with this unpleasant energy-consuming reality of learning? If we choose to be self-caring individuals, we face struggle – but not as a stranger. We do this by befriending Struggle. We give Struggle the status of our truest friend – one that asks questions until we find answers, the one that stumps us until we prove that we understand, the one that argues until we justify, and the one that cries until we present a means that resonates with it. This is Struggle. Struggle, when dealt with in a healthy manor, is the bitter truth that will help us evolve and change as humans. In any endeavor, Struggle never leaves your side because she knows that, without her, we will most likely remain iert, careless, and blase. Struggle is our toughest and best teacher – in searching for answers, it is struggle who leads us to asking our classroom teachers, coaches, parents, and mentors the most essential questions to breaking open daunting concepts and skills. So, let’s embrace Struggle – let’s give her the status of an unwavering and most truthful friend. Let’s thank Struggle for helping us change through learning. Let’s rejoice for a newly made friendship with Struggle!
Action for this post:
List the pros of struggle and give struggle a life, as I did in the article (above). It may be useful to look at all the struggles you have had, and list what you learned from them. Sometime, we view struggle through a negative or warped perspective and it seems that we did not grow or learn – but if we look closely, we can continue to learn from struggle – even today! The more human “Struggle” becomes, the more likely you are to befriend her!