4 x 4 = ????

This quote by Albert Einstein always challenges me because sometimes I am tempted to take the “easy” way out when helping my students. I know it would be easier for them and for me if I just told them what 4×4 equals or what SOHCAHTOA means when they can’t remember. And to be honest, sometimes I do. But often times they will look doubtfully at me as I sit back in my chair and ask them to do their best to figure it out first. And then if they still can’t get it, I’m more than willing to help.

Because what is my job, really? To provide my students with the answer? Sometimes, yes, if they don’t understand it and they’ve tried to figure it out. Or if they’re learning something completely new, I will gladly teach them the problem step-by-step. However, I will usually ask them to try to solve it first, or see if they can find the necessary formula in their textbook, or remember what they learned in previous problems to find clues for the current question.

Why do I do this? Because Einstein is 100% correct. The student who is truly educated is the one who gains the skill of critical thinking and problem solving–who looks at a tough situation and doesn’t immediately cave in to the “I don’t know so I can’t do it” mindset. The student who is truly educated has a mind that has been trained to think clearly, logically, and creatively, accompanied by a determined and positive attitude.

That is my goal when I teach: to pass on the skill of thinking well with a determined attitude…because if students can do that, they will have the tools to succeed in whatever task they take on in life.

Think hard and think well! 🙂

Rachel Cheslik

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