Working Hard or Hardly Working?
The energy of words leaves an impact on the person receiving them. As a retired teacher, I have been playing with the English language for years. In the picture below, am I hardly working or working hard? Depends on your point of view. What if neither answer was my truth? What if I was having fun as a way of creating income? (Hint: it's possible. That's a blog post for another day.) I love what I do and am thrilled to work with such a spectacular view. And, no - not every day is like this - instead of focusing on the commute, long hours, accounting work, emails, chores, etc. of running a business - I create little adventures with every bit of work required to do what I do.
What if changing the language of words could make learning fun for kids? One of the consistent academic blocks I encounter working with kids today is....the ever difficult Math problem! Think about it - what does the word "problem" indicate? Doubt, uncertainty, difficulty, complication, dilemma, obstacle, trouble, issue, headache, mess, quandary, and, my favorite, botheration. (I visualize Winnie the Pooh struggling to reach his honey pot.) These are just a handful of words synonymous with "problem". What do those words bring up for you? Pause and try to feel what that energy is - you have a PROBLEM- yes, that - was it a big sigh knowing something would be difficult?
What if by choosing different words, we could change the world? (I like to think big, huge, grand, ginormous, colossal and beyond.) Back to our problem...technically, the Mathematical definition of problem is: "a statement requiring a solution by solving or construction". I wonder how many students actually know this is the official meaning of what their Math work requires? What if our text books and our educators taught our kids to approach word problems as puzzles or mysteries or solutions? Sounds a bit more fun to me. In fact, I use the word puzzles or equations.
One of my favorite tools to use with students who are stuck with hating Math problems, is to ask them if it's true. The first response is usually, "YES!" So, I agree with them. Sounds crazy, right? I say, "Oh, ok, you must be right." The student usually doesn't know what to do with that. (Insert a blank expression with big owl eyes blinking, please.) Most adults unintentionally negate what a student says; which creates the need for a student to defend their point of view about Math and hold on to it even if it's not true for them. When you agree with their statement, the student suddenly feels strange and goes into question about their opinion. If you agree with their statement, they have a tricky time trying to defend themselves. I usually ask a question like, "Is what you know showing up for you? Would you like to change this?" (There are more steps to this facilitation depending on the individual. I'm not giving away all my magical secrets for free.) No matter what the rest of the conversation is, the end result is that the student can suddenly read, understand, and correctly solve equations with ease. How cool is that?
Whether we are hardly working or working hard...what if we questioned the words we use and the impact they have on our reality? Are you willing to give it a try? Let me know how it goes!