As educators, you’ve probably seen children who put little to no effort into studying because they believe that no matter how hard they try, they’ll still fail.
After an exam, some students may come up with blank sheets or fail to respond when given a question in class.
As a result, educators have argued for framing failure as a positive learning opportunity; nevertheless, failure has become so common in a student’s life that it causes utter hopelessness and learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is a psychological syndrome related to emotions of powerlessness; it causes students to disengage from attempts, regardless of how near they are to accomplishment.
Learned helplessness happens when a student has frequently been exposed to a difficult scenario and has grown to believe that they are unable to manage or change their circumstances. As a result, they stop attempting even when there is an opportunity available.
Because this idea is formed early in life, it is vital that both elementary and secondary school educators comprehend and be aware of the condition, which has a negative influence on academic performance and mental health.
How learned helplessness occurs in the classroom
It is worth noting that learned helplessness, for example, often begins early in a child’s life as a result of inattentive guardians.
Untrustworthy adults or activities that maintain a gloomy perspective that feeds into the cycle of learned helplessness may increase this situation in schools.
These school- and classroom-based methods, such as not letting children at least try to work on an issue by providing aid to the point of almost completing the work for the child, may have noble intentions but can nevertheless contribute to the syndrome.
Symptoms of learned helplessness in classroom
- The child will refuse to accept help, even though the teacher gives it repeatedly
- Frustration makes it easy to give up (the child is easily frustrated)
- Disconnection from the endeavor( there is no interest to keep up with the task)
- There is no motivation
- Self-esteem and self-efficacy are low (the child keeps finding reasons why a solution won’t work).
It’s vital to investigate what signals failure sends to students, how children interpret failure, and if educators reinforce this reasoning.
How does a teacher respond when a student makes a mistake, for instance? Is the classroom a place where teachers not only anticipate but actively welcome mistakes as learning opportunities?
Learned helplessness may result if pupils adopt the message that failure is persistent, pervasive, and personalized.
How to manage children with learned helplessness
Teachers can use an equal perspective to confront learned helplessness.
Kids who are struggling, have been trying hard for a long time, and have thrown in the towel require special attention, and yet most interventions that target learned helplessness will benefit all students.
There are a few options available to consider:
Take a look at how you grade
Teachers who believe that giving students zeros inspires them should reconsider.
Zero has never been enough to encourage a learner. Redos and retakes are other acts to consider.
Allowing no opportunity to attempt again may communicate the message that failure is final and irreversible, resulting in learned helplessness.
Accept and appreciate failure
Teachers should emphasize that we don’t learn unless we fail. Teachers can also model how to respond correctly to failure and offer examples of famous successful people who redefined failure as learning opportunities and discover new things; such valuable narratives about the worth of failure and resilience may help students build their own fortitude.
Praise and applaud the student’s work rather than the child’s perceived inherent talent
This is significant because it reframes success as the consequence of hard work rather than an inherent aptitude.
Change your language to “I can tell how much effort that took, congrats!” instead of “You’re incredibly excellent at math.”
Display posters in your classroom that highlight efforts over skill, and reference them frequently when teaching and delivering feedback.
Sticky notes with reminders like “Emphasize effort,” “Praise dedication,” and “Normalize Failure!” can also be placed around the teacher’s desk.
Exhibit a positive outlook
Take advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate that academic failure isn’t personal, pervasive, or irreversible. Failure does not last indefinitely.
By using failure as a springboard for learning, you may demonstrate how to deal with failure effectively.
Have you ever been caught teaching something incorrectly or making a mistake?
What a wonderful opportunity to admit the mistake, perhaps joke about it, and celebrate it by stating, “Now that we realize what technique doesn’t work, let’s look into some that do!”
Work with children to develop small, attainable goals, and congratulate their achievement
When working on a large assignment, provide a checklist that allows pupils to start small and track their progress.
As students work toward their goals, provide a selection of easily accessible tools such as a visual dictionary, caring adults, websites, and a peer coach.
Realistic optimisim is the cure to learned helplessness. it is possible for children to acquire realistic optimism if they can understand learned helplessness.
Students and the teachers who care for them must cultivate a mindset that promotes optimism, gratitude, and resilience.
Those who do not have access to resources typically do not have the hopeful belief that success is possible. There is a feeling that students’ efforts are all valuable where there is hope and optimism.