The “C Word” and The “D Word”

by Thomas C. Anderson
(Kanagawa, Japan)



The “C Word” and The “D Word”

I think that feedback is an important part of teaching. Most universities do an end of term survey which is fine when planning a new semester. A friend suggested doing something called ‘exit slips’ from time to time during the term. At the end of a class period students need to write a question or comment on a piece of scrap paper and put it in an envelope provided by the teacher. Students need to understand that they do NOT write their name-comments must be anonymous. The comments will be discussed at the beginning of the next class.

What I’ve noticed in student comments is a tendency on their part to use the “d-word” (difficult). I believe that “difficult” is a cop-out word. When it is used there’s the underlying message “It’s difficult so I won’t make any effort”.

The best way to deal with the “d-word” is to instead use the “c-word”, that is: challenge. Challenge comes with the attitude “Okay, this might not be easy but I’m going to challenge myself and see if I can do better”. The point here is not to compare what I do with others but to look at myself. A close friend’s opinion might help too.

The “d-word” holds us back and keeps us from being the type of people we could be. We teachers also need to do an attitude check of our own too and see if we can make some changes to improve our classes. It’s a challenge but that’s what learning is all about.

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