Struggle to Learn

By: An Angry Old Man

Last week in my blog I mentioned that defeating fear is one of the most important things to do to be successful.  I received a lot of feedback stating that fear does hold people back.  The fear of losing, fear of looking dumb, and the fear of struggling while others seem to be cruising.

Can struggling help you learn?  Let’s look at two lists of words.  What I would like you to do is look at both lists for an equal amount of time.

A                                                                         B

Ocean/breeze                                                 bread/b_tter

Leaf/tree                                                          music/l_rics

Movie/actress                                                 sh_e/sock

Gasoline/engine                                             phone/bo_k

High school/college                                       chi_s/salsa

Turkey/stuffing                                               pen_il/paper

Fruit/vegetable                                               river/b_at

Computer/chip                                                television/rad_o

Chair/couch                                                     l_nch/dinner

Without looking try to remember as many pair of words as you can.  From which column do you recall more words?  If you are like most people you should remember two to three times as many words from column B.

So why does this happen?  When you examined the words in column B, you stopped, you stumbled and for a second you struggled.  You did not practice harder with column B you practiced deeper (more info)

Another example happens quite often in the classroom.  A teacher calls on a student who is struggling to figure out the answer.  His friend trying to help the student out tries to whisper the answer to him so that the teacher can not hear. The truth of the matter is if you give the student the answer they probably will not remember it in the future.  However, if they are forced to struggle, retrieve the information themselves then they are more than likely to remember this information in the future.

So, the next time a teacher asks you a tough question, do not ask your partner for the answer.  Instead force yourself to struggle, because when you struggle at the edge of your ability, where you make mistakes you become smarter.

The great thing about deep practice is that we are not asking you to work longer just harder.

Originally appeared here:

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