“Solve Your Problem”

When I was living and teaching out West, I noticed that both parents’ and teachers’ first response to a child facing a challenge was, “Solve your problem.”

I’ve always appreciated that phrase, and the pedagogical philosophy it embodies. Learning to sit with tension is an essential part of the learning process: after all, we go from not-knowing to knowing, and most of us find not-knowing uncomfortable.

Kids who learn that they can always find an adult to relieve tension will keep looking for that shortcut. Kids who learn to solve their problems will learn that they can work through tension and find solutions on their own.

If it’s hard to stand the sight of a seven-year-old who can’t seem to get a handle on a problem, consider how it might look at age 27.