Did you figure that out all on your own?

Posted on May 16, 2012


**** Update ****

After thinking about this some more and reading the comment below I’ve decided at least for myself this statement is still too focused on the conclusion of the work rather than the process. I probably would not use this statement too much with students


This is what I want teachers and parents to say to children at The Puzzle School.

I’ve long been a fan of Carol Dweck’s work on fixed mindset, but have struggled with the language that encourages a growth mindset. Trying to encourage effort through words of encouragement such as “you worked so hard on that!” while ignoring any celebration of the outcome always felt awkward.

“Did you figure that out all on your own?”, though, is a great way to encourage the process of figuring something out, while also celebrating the accomplishment.

I want The Puzzle School to be an environment filled with activities, exercises, etc. where it makes sense to say “Did you figure that out all on your own?” to a student. That doesn’t mean there’s no role for the educator, but rather that the educator is focused on creating the environment that makes it easier, but not too easy, for a student to figure something out on their own (or in a group of peers). That’s what I am striving to create at The Puzzle School.