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Learnt helplessness

Posted on: March 7, 2017

This reflection is a follow-up on the one yesterday about how scaffolds become crutches. Like yesterday’s topic, I have ruminated on we have learnt helplessness.

We only have ourselves to blame for not knowing or wanting to help ourselves.

In everyday Singapore life, this manifests itself in our general unwillingness to use self-service kiosks, to put our food trays away, and to fill our own cars up with petrol.

On the teaching front, learnt helplessness starts with methods that do not nurture curiosity, exploration, and independence. Such methods include, but are not limited to, spoon-feeding and providing quick answers instead of asking critical questions, providing detailed notes, and limiting scopes by sticking strictly to curricula.

All these help our students learn to be helpless. All these produce gratifying but short-term results. All these dumb down instead of smarten up in the long run.

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