Educators educating Educators

Jul 21

Why Don't Students Like School?

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few people engage in it.” ~ Henry Ford


Why Don’t Students Like School? Because the Mind is Not Designed for Thinking.

By Daniel Willingham, American Educator, Spring 2009


At the start of his intriguing article in the Spring 2009 edition of the American Educator, Daniel Willingham asks, “Why is it difficult to make school enjoyable for students?”

Willingham does answer this question but first he states the following thought provoking theories:

1. Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking.

2. It’s designed to save you from thinking, because the brain is not very good at thinking.

2. Humans don’t thing very often because our brains are designed not for thought, but for avoidance of thought.

3. Thinking is not only effortful, as Ford noted, it’s also slow and unreliable.

4. Your brain serves many purposes, and thinking is not one it does best. Your brain also supports the ability to see and to move, for example, and those functions operate much more efficiently and reliably than our ability to think.

5. Thinking poses three problems. Thinking is slow; Thinking is effortful; Thinking is uncertain.

Use the link above to read the fascinating article discovering answers to the questions and practical classroom practices designed to overcome these obstacle and engage student thinking in class.


In case you get bored with the lazy days of summer and want to get a jump preparing for the coming school year, I added to Stuff4Educators a section called How to Study Better based on research from Harvard Medical School that highlights four science-backed ways towards better learning (Hint: drop the highlighter). Additionally, I posted a YouTube video under exercise from the Dana Foundation that won the Northwest Emmy award called Exercise and the Brain that explores the benefits of exercise on the brain and learning. Finally, some books that I have read this past year and found to be stimulating are listed.