Don’t try harder

In an education system in which ‘grit’ is revered, and ‘perseverance’ is considered a universal human value, there can be a tendency to encourage students to “just keep trying” or to “try harder”.

Now, that’s fine for a while, or when a student clearly is not quite giving their all.

But “try harder” is, literally, the worst piece of advice you can give a student…

…when they are using the wrong technique or are unable to access the right strategy.

Grit and perseverance can become the enemy of achievement

…when we are going about something the wrong way.

And this is where discerning teachers are not afraid to encourage their students to ‘quit’; to reevaluate their approach, to pivot, and to try an alternate pathway.

Instead of ‘try harder’, often our students need to hear: ‘try differently’.

Published by

David Bott

Hi, I'm David Bott, Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education in Australia.

One thought on “Don’t try harder”

  1. So interesting…and the same is surely applicable to teachers too! Perhaps the burnout and attrition rates would be arrested if leaders actively encouraged and facilitated ongoing review of workload, effort and strategies and occasionally said ENOUGH!

    Liked by 1 person

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