• Brian Kelley

Difficulty Facing Difficulty


Our students can learn to adopt our attitude toward reading, writing...and most especially, struggle. I do not have an answer for you regarding how to teach embracing the pleasure in difficulty when much of the architecture of school communicates that the results of struggle are undesirable. Labeled basic or below basic seek to remediate young people so that they no longer struggle. I realize we feel as though we work from blurry topographical maps when strategize interventions intended to help students achieve and while still allowing for a certain degree of challenge in each student's journey. For as convenient as one street map to a standardized destination would be, few take identical paths in their literacy processes.


How can we teach students to learn to sit with difficulty when the stopwatch of learning is very real in the design of school?


I just like this question, this idea, that Katherine Bomer presented in The Journey is Everything. My personifying difficulty in the sketch above helped me internalize taking the edge from the question. Pop a big rubbery nose on my sketch of difficulty and he/she/it might resemble Elmo or Grover from Sesame Street. Friendlier. Fuzzier.


For now, all I can offer is my thinking. Difficulty, observing it, is going to be in the forefront of my mind--and I am going to start asking students about it so that I might learn how I can best help them sit with (face?) their individual struggles.



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