Friday, July 13, 2012

The Mastery of "Easy"

By Amy Esselman

Is easy work always a bad thing?

The Center for American Progress says yes. In a recently released report, the center found that schools aren’t challenging their students—at least according to the students.

The report says that large percentages of students found their work to be too easy.

For many that sent red flags, and to a certain extent, it should. But on the other hand, if students are finding work easy, it means they’re at least completing it. There is a fine line between curriculum mastery and the need to push harder.

Think back to when you were a kid. When I was younger, “It’s easy” was a proclamation of mastery. It was more of an “I can handle that” declaration than it was an “I’m not being challenged” announcement.

To that point, the report doesn’t mention that some of the same students who claimed their work was "easy" also stated that they are learning in the classroom almost every day.

I won’t go as far as saying that easy work is good for kids, but I will add that it’s a stretch to assume that because kids think something is easy, then it must mean that they aren’t learning. Sometimes the subjects I’m most interested in—areas that could potentially be difficult to others—appear easy and natural for me. That doesn’t make the area any less difficult for other students, but it does support the idea that students all learn differently.

Some subjects and lessons will be easier than others. There will be days when some students learn more, or feel more challenged than other students. But that’s okay. That’s natural.

That’s also a big part of why it’s so important that education speaks to individual students rather than the masses. Our kids need to focus on their unique needs and interests and incorporate the skills from there.

Easy isn’t always bad, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re unchallenged.

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