Monday, September 27, 2010

It’s Easy

I heard it again last week. “It’s easy!” A student was trying to encourage her classmate while they worked on a math problem. I have heard this countless times from teachers, students, and parents. I used to say it myself – until I talked to a wise friend about the impact those words have and why he always told his sons the task at hand was hard.

If the task is accomplished, because it was easy, there is no sense of self-satisfaction. I don’t pat myself on the back or feel good about my success when I complete an easy task.

If the task cannot be accomplished, a person feels like he must be really stupid. After all, he cannot even do something that is easy. How could he hope to do something hard?

When I heard it last week, I immediately looked at the struggling student. She responded to her friend by lowering her eyes and shrugging her shoulders. This is a response I have seen before. What I have not seen is the response the speaker hoped for – a renewed sense of determination to succeed.

“It’s easy!” Think about it before you say it again.


  1. Wow...that really put it into perspective for me. I think I've said that before when trying to teach Lilly a new letter.

  2. Very true, Sue.

    Thanks for pointing this one out. I'm opposed to "just do this..." and "all you have to do is..." but I totally forgot about these two words!

  3. I have a student who hears those words and just about explodes. It really kills his self confidence, which isn't that high to begin with when it comes to math. Because of him, I have learned not to say those words with students.

  4. Brittney, Bon, and Tammy,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I think it is an uphill battle to help others see that some terms meant to be encouraging actually have the opposite impact. But I'm going to keep trying. I know you will too.