Conversations: diligent practice hard work Leigh O. Mollie C.
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Two of our high school girls had this conversation recently:
MOLLIE: I [stink] at factoring.
LEIGH: Don’t tell her THAT! She’ll just make you work on it MORE.
Sometimes my students make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. I think it’s hilarious that Leigh said this as if I weren’t in the room, let alone that I was standing right next to her. It’s also funny that she would suggest that another student take the easy road because Leigh has raised her grade 10 percentage points since she started one month ago on March 16. Her progress was evident only after she started practicing harder.
After fifteen years of tutoring, if Joe and I know nothing else, it’s that convincing our students to practice diligently gets the best grades. Even students with the worst math skills or those with disabilities improve their grades with careful practice (Geoff Colvin calls it “deliberate practice” in his book Talent is Overrated). For example, Lee Alderman became valedictorian despite his mild autism or Brandi Binder who graduated high school with honors after having half her brain removed. (Read about Lee here & here and Brandi here & here.)
Most of our students are kids with reasonably good health but some have decided or were given the impression that math is not their subject, so they give up too soon. They give up before the hard work begins, the very thing that will get them where they need to be.
You may think of yourself as a typical student but we want you to know that you have stunning ability to improve with directed training, “deliberate practice”. So, put forth your best effort. Work hard so you will keep improving. Not much else beats the satisfaction of getting a good grade knowing that you worked hard to get it.