Week 5 in Review: How long before you should ask for help?


Big thanks to one of our Forest School dads—an expert and PhD in org design and development—for giving our heroes feedback this week on their emerging "Studio Contracts."

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Here’s this week’s update:

Update from the Elementary School Studio:

It can be difficult making the transition from traditional teacher/school/working habits to the learner-driven environment at The Forest School. Particularly during Core Skills, heroes have struggled with taking charge of their own learning when the rubber hits the road. Once a new concept becomes “hard”, their first instinct has been to reach out for help. Asking a neighbor, a Guide, or a Middle School hero has been their default setting. We are working hard to cultivate an environment in which heroes feel responsible for their learning and empowered at their own capabilities, but they needed some parameters to help define this. 

During launch on Tuesday, Lisa showed the heroes her own Khan Academy dashboard. She had quickly breezed through Geometry and Pre-Algebra, as well as most of Algebra 1. That is, until around 67% progress—she was stuck and hadn’t moved the needle forward in days. She showed them pages and pages of notes and practice problems she had worked through, erased, and crossed out. Should she ask for help now? Why hadn’t she asked for help yet? The heroes landed on “Because she’ll feel most proud of herself if she accomplishes it on her own.”  

They were right about Lisa's motivation and recognized that the same thinking could be applied to their own Core Skills time. But, just how long should you try to work on something you don’t understand before you ask for help? Some heroes proposed hours, a few said days, and a hearty discussion pursued. Eventually, the heroes landed on sound advice that felt just the right amount of challenging: “You should have as many tries as you are old. So, if you’re six years old, you try six times. And if you’re ten, you try ten times. But you have to have proof of your effort, like all of Lisa’s math notes!” To date, Lisa reports a definite 30% decrease in questions asked during Core Skills!

From the Middle School Studio:

How do you become a master?

This week Middle School Heroes have been thinking through what it takes to "master" something. Does it depend more on the talent you bring to the table, the time you dedicate to the task, or the tools you have at your disposal? Heroes brought a range of perspectives to our discussions and we examined the lived examples of a number of "masters" in the world. Will Heroes choose to set a goal of "excellence" for their work here at The Forest School? Will they hold Studio-mates accountable to a standard of excellence as well? Will they be able to earn their badges by showcasing their mastery?

Those were and are the questions before them this week.

We hope you enjoy your weekend with loved ones!

banner image via

Tyler Thigpen