Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Student frustration is too valuable to waste.

With this quote from the instructor manual for the business simulation used in undergraduate strategy, we are off and running. The instructor is also frustrated at this point...and my own frustration is too valuable to waste.

The premise behind the frustration-learning link is that frustration leads to problem solving and, eventually, to learning.  The learning is intended to be the fun part.  The solution, even if imperfect...the sense of accomplishment, even if wrong...the learning, even if painful.  I get it; I believe it; I don't have to like it.

When the University makes changes to the curriculum, the faculty (which, in this very particular case, would be me) is required to adjust.  As a proponent of change and flexibility, I am--at least in a theoretical sense--in favor of progress and the changes required.  As a flawed human being with my own sense of frustration, I am having a challenging beginning to the semester.  And I am reminded (again) how it feels to struggle with ambiguity.  Our Blackboard system is new, slow, and flawed.  Our class sizes have increased, with no increase in the size of the classroom, the support provided, or the length of the time required for mastery (by the students...and, if we are being honest, by the instructor).
So, after worrying about my own ability to learn the details of this simulation and make it work, I have decided that I can do this, I can teach my students to do this, and we will get through this semester together.  This particular frustration may or may not be valuable, but it certainly is motivating.  Welcome back.


  1. Dr Miles, welcome back indeed. Or perhaps that should be welcome forward or sideways. The beginning of another semester, new classes and professors in the midst this intense winter. Change, frustration with it or sometimes simply with the pace of it, grasping the intellectual and grappling with the emotional, so goes the start of most things new. A semester, a season, a relationship, even a book. Allowing our abilities and our aptitudes to find their footing in the midst of change and amongst the intellectual understanding and the emotional stretch, is in and of itself a lesson in creativity and in life. And in your case, one to be shared with your students. Frustration has been valuable in my own life as a lesson or an obstacle or sometimes simply as being what it is, as a recognition that I need to slow down and look around for all of the possible paths inherent in ambiguity not just the one that I have created and can see in front of me. It can be a stop sign or a starting block; somehow given your writing, I think it will be the latter and that you will wind up teaching not only your students in the classroom but those of us who happen upon this blog. And yourself.

  2. It's been ANOTHER month. You must be preoccupied.

  3. MP, you have exquisite timing. In conclusion, thank you.

    RFIDC, et tu, Brute?


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