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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why I think "challenging" and "hard" are not the same.

I stumbled across this blog post today and it brought to mind some conversations I had with students in the last week. I dislike it when my students say 'physics is hard.' I always tell them, 'It's not hard, it's challenging'. I don't know why I care. It is basically the same thing. But I guess to me the word hard connotes that it is too difficult to learn. A challenge is something that by definition must be overcome. It is my opinion that anyone can learn physics. I do not have a single student who I feel is incapable of learning the main concepts. Unfortunately some of these students do not believe that yet. It is a constant struggle to try and boost their self-confidence enough for them to become successful.

I have had some successes though. One student who continuously told me she "doesn't get it" is now whipping off force diagrams and doing simple trig calculations better than just about anyone in class. Oh and she is a special ed student who usually gets C's or D's in science. She got a B+ last quarter!

I have found that the students attitude for modeling makes a great impact on their success. If they don't buy into the program it is very difficult for them to learn anything.

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