I recently read about productive struggle in a WestEd blog. The writer states, "For years, philosophers have been saying that nothing worth having comes without some effort. So why are we so quick to jump to the aid of our students, thereby removing the opportunity to learn from grappling with the mathematics?"
While the article was discussing productive struggle in the context of the new math standards, it applies just as well to NGSS. If we implement NGSS right, our students should experience productive struggle. In an NGSS classroom, students that are trying to make sense of phenomena or design a solution for a problem using engineering will encounter problems. And these problems are not only "normal," or expected in the NGSS classroom, they are welcomed because it means the learning environment is authentic. As Mardi Gale reflected, "how do we expect students to become problem solvers if they never encounter a problem? And self-confidence is built through accomplishments - real accomplishments - not just answer getting and superficial praise."
To topic of productive struggle then came up again recently, this time during discussions with a small group of educators as we reviewed the new CA framework for NGSS. We realized that both students AND teachers will experience struggles with NGSS. As long as the stress of these struggles is "benign" and not "killer," both students and teachers will learn new things and grow.
Learn more about productive struggle and a growth mindset:
The Mindset Kit (from Standford University)
Videos that show growth mindset practices in action
What pitfalls can we try to avoid to prevent false growth mindset?
@NGSS_tweeps is a community Twitter account: each week a different educator tweets about NGSS, providing a window into their classroom