Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Frustration and Behaviour

I was having a conversation today at school today talking today about finding ways to better support students in the primary years.  We talked about how frustrated these learners become as they get older and find the work harder and harder.  They begin to notice that their peers are at a different level.  They are given work that they don't get.  They are asked to focus for extended periods of time.  And so the conversation moved to talking about frustration.

I was thinking about the book I have been reading off and on, Lost at School.  I was trying to put that frustration into perspective during our conversation.  I was trying to put myself in their shoes and it is hard to do.  I have never really struggled in school so I needed to think about other situations.  I am a very even tempered person who rarely gets really upset.  There are basically 3 situations that will usually cause me to swear and become frustrated.  Missing a glorious scoring chance in soccer will usually result in a few inappropriate words and since none of my soccer mates are on twitter I will say that happens VERY infrequently...  Then there is driving in Vancouver.  The last is putting together furniture from a store that shall remain nameless.

The furniture example was the one I chose to use.  It is one of the few times where I really feel like throwing something out a window and tend to use the occasional bit of profanity.  Some of those instructions, in my opinion, are horrible, the pictures are hard to figure out and I usually have to restart a few steps here and there.  Some of these projects should only take around 30 minutes and usually take over an hour.  There are people out there who don't even need to look at the instructions and can just put them together.  Those instructions are easy to follow for some and not for others.  What if those students are experiencing the same frustration that I feel when assembling furniture?


  1. Great analogy, Remi. I can think of all sorts of parallels, like wanting someone to just "do it for you," or giving up early, or feeling like you can only do it with help, and not wanting to do it on your own.

    I guess the difference is, we know we have to get that furniture built sometime because it's not going away. There's perhaps not such a visual reminder for students, and many want to bury their head in the sand. Am I generalizing too much? What do you think?

  2. I don't think you are generalzing too much. The biggest difference is that I have the coping strategies necessary to not throw the desk out the window nor react angrily towards someone else. This was something that I was discussing with @rmfaris.

    I think also the fact that I chose to buy the desk (or really liked the person who did) leads to a different motivation. I think the challenge lies in the fact that I also don't feel that frustration day in and day out in the same environment and these students do. I also think your point about the visual reminder- do they see a point to try and see past their frustration? So many questions...

  3. Hi Remi, strange how the internet can point to places that you would not think of going at the start of your day...but here are my two bits:
    Frustration, for me at least, is often a result of me thinking I am not smart enough to figure out what others seem to do effortlessly. When I was younger I was very hard on myself for this reason and would internalize my emotions and mask the real reason with anger which was often misinterperted. I believe teachers need to recognize the frustration and change their presentation of the lesson. Too many simply repeat the concept in the same manner even though it is not getting through, not unlike the quintessential American tourist that repeats the question in LOUDER english to a non-english speaking native.
    As I aged, I learned mistakes are not a bad thing and learned to persevere. Teachers need to explain mistakes are part of learning and to encourage the frustated students to hang in there.