The Broken Escalator

How can we teach children to help themselves?

When some children encounter a problem, difficulty, challenge or hurdle then they stop.

Sometimes stopping and pausing for a moment lets them gather their thoughts but invariably they just stop and wait for help.

There’s a video worth sharing at the beginning of the school year that will make children think twice about putting up their hand for help as a default reaction to getting stuck.

This video shows what happens when an escalator stops working with two people ‘stuck’ on it – their reactions aren’t dissimilar to many classroom situations!

Children are far too quick to ask for help and this video illustrates perfectly the behaviour of many.

We are sometimes far too quick responding to requests for help too and should encourage children to find a solution themselves first.

Teachers can’t be everywhere at once and even if you are in a position to help, should you? Isn’t it better to allow children the time and space to think about what to do themselves? We aren’t talking abandoning them but helping them by not rushing over like some sort of rapid response unit.

Teachers should limit the amount of help they give to pupils and allow them to get ‘unstuck’ themselves.

All children ‘get stuck’ – that’s a normal part of learning. What’s important is how they react and what strategies they have to help solve a problem.

A great way to help children learn is simply by not helping.

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