“Never help a child with a task at which he feels like he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori. How do you feel about this quote in terms of your own educational experience?
When interrupting a child who is learning, their whole cognitive process is disrupted. As a child, I remember that some teachers would be quick to offer solutions without giving me the proper time to figure things out on my own. That is one of the problems with the time constraints of schools. If kids do not figure things out in the allotted time, a teacher will assume that the child needs help. Martinez explains the Iterative Design Cycles of teaching in Invent to Learn. These cycles include planning, making, testing, adjusting, then making again. “Even asking a child ‘Hey, watcha doin?’ Is disruptive. It’s up to each and every reasonable educator to determine the appropriate level of disruption.”
Much of the time, adults get in the way of a child’s learning and play. Do children look like they need help? From an adult’s perspective, maybe. But they don’t. As Dr. Spock is quoted in Invent to Learn, “a child loves his play, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”
I remember many “mouth up” moments from my childhood. Usually involving playing outside, trying to figure out how to put the chain back on my bike, fixing a broken toy, or trying to figure out how something worked. “Mouth up frustration occurs when you get stuck while solving a problem or learning something you care about. Kids often smile during such tests of will and are ecstatic once they outsmart the temporary speed bump. Great satisfaction and self-efficacy results from these momentary spells of mouth up frustration.” (Martinez, 2013) Anyone interrupting me as a child would have ruined my “mouth up” moment.
As a child, figuring out how to do something was a very personal experience for me. My working brain was not on a time constraint. We have to expect kids to be able to figure out solutions to problems on their own. We are not being unreasonable to hold them to higher expectations. “Most often, kids will exceed our expectations, especially if exceeding our expectations is our expectation. ” (Martinez, 2013)
Martinez, Sylvia Libow, and Gary Stager. Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. N.p.: Constructing Modern Knowledge, 2013. Kindle.