It's a universal truth that if you ask most students what they don't like about school, their lists will be lengthy! While virtual school students won't have the usual complaints about getting up early for long bus rides or eating cafeteria food, like most kids do, their lists will typically include items such as:
But ask cognitive psychologist Daniel T. Willingham the same question and you'll get a much more surprising answer:
Thinking Is Hard
According to Willingham, students dislike school because thinking is hard, effortful, and slow. As he explains in "Why Don't Students Like School," thinking requires students to:
- Retrieve information from their immediate environment and the vast factual storehouse of their long-term memory
- Combine that information in new ways in their more limited, short-term working memory
- Imagine solutions based on those new combinations
So, even though they're naturally curious, students (and the rest of us, too!) will avoid thinking—unless the learning conditions are right.
What Are the Right Conditions for Thinking?
They're the conditions or activities that allow students to experience the pleasurable rush of solving problems—whether those problems are algebra equations or struggling to understand Shakespeare's sonnets. In fact, neuroscientists believe that the pleasurable rush may be the actual rush of chemicals produced by the brain’s natural reward system. Remember how it feels to get that last crossword, Sudoku, or Jeopardy answer? Well, students love that feeling of success ...