“Academic work should be hard enough that it energizes, not so hard that it paralyzes” (344).
If I didn’t prepare my students in class to complete all the problems on the assignment, I shouldn’t assign them all. Giving them something they have not been properly prepared for simply because it’s at the level of rigor of my standard will not increase achievement.
“Young people themselves well know that successful completion of challenging tasks is self-rewarding and energizing, whereas completion of simple tasks brings little satisfaction” (345).
Assigning multiple “drill and kill” problems does not help them gain confidence. It only shows them that they wasted time on the easy ones only to still not be able to complete the hard ones.
A friend of mine from high school was really blunt about this to me one day. “You’re not one of those teachers who assigns all the stupid, waste-of-time easy problems on top of the challenging ones that really matter, are you?” Guilty because I bought into the idea that they need to master the skill before they can apply it, so I’ve got to assign a bunch of those problems for them to practice. I’m thinking about really working on mastering the process problems during class and assigning fewer but truly rigorous problems to the level of the standard for homework. This is risky to me. In the past, students have simply skipped many of these problems on the assignment. However, if I only assign up to 10 of them, I don’t think that will be as likely.
We’ll see. I still have several weeks to mull over this and look at my curriculum.