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Productive Struggle

Thursday, April 21, 2022 Volume 16 Issue 27

Parents sometimes talk about wanting their children to have a better life than theirs. This may mean different things to different people – it could be about having a house versus an apartment, being better off financially, having a better education, or more opportunities. As we try to provide this to our children, sometimes we try to make their lives easier than ours were -- trying to shelter them from difficulties, hardship, or heartbreak. At school, sometimes this can take the form of parents wanting to save their child from the frustration that can come when learning is difficult.

This week, our staff is talking about an April 5, 2022, New York Times article, Learning the Right Way to Struggle, by Jenny Anderson. The article highlights several common educational strategies that lean into the idea that, in the classroom, challenge is something to embrace. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University and author of Mindset (the book that got us all thinking about having a growth mindset) says “The answer isn’t taking away challenge, it’s giving more tools to deal with challenge.”

James Nottingham notes that students may be in one of three mental states “when learning something new: relatively comfortable, relatively uncomfortable and panicked.” Students do not learn well when they are panicked, but he maintains that parents and teachers often intervene at the least sign of discomfort, but the relatively uncomfortable point is where students are grappling with new things and solidifying their ideas. Educational psychologist Manu Kapur’s research shows that engaging in productive failure, the idea of working hard at a problem before receiving instructions in how to solve it, actually helps students learn concepts more fully and retain knowledge longer. This method works best when a problem is a bit beyond student’s reach, but not impossible, and when students are able to work together with partners. ​ One simple way to talk to your child about these concepts is that when we struggle with learning or work hard to stick with something new, we are growing the muscle of our brain. Just like if we want to perform better on an athletic field or in a swimming pool, we must work hard and struggle to get there. Think about how you might encourage your child to stretch themselves as they are learning a new concept.

Encourage their effort – not just their results.


Notes from Chantel Hazlewood, FTME President

  • Teacher appreciation week is in two weeks! There are many ways we’d like to thank our teachers and a sign up genius is forthcoming with ways everyone can help.

  • Looking for 2-3 people to contribute to the FTME budget process. Ideally looking for additional input from families enrolled in scholars and PEACE academy. Commitment is less than one hour. Please email Chantel at for details.

  • Looking for an enrichment development team to restart our before/after school enrichment program next year! Please email Chantel at for details.

  • Grade level picnics are in the works! Details are being finalized but Friends of Thurgood Marshall Elementary would like to welcome you back to in person events at school in May! Stay tuned for date announcements next pup press!


On-Demand COVID Testing at Schools!

A new on-demand COVID testing program will be launched at our school this month. As we lift COVID mitigation measures (i.e. masks) testing is now more important than ever in helping reduce the spread of COVID through our community. Testing would be used for students of staff with COVID-life symptoms, individuals who are at high risk for significant illness from COVID, individuals who are exposed to COVID in their household, and during potential outbreaks happening in our building.

If you would like your child to participate in the on-demand testing program, please CLICK HERE to register and fill out a consent form.

This consent form will allow your child to be tested for COVID throughout the rest of the 2021-22 school year. You will receive test results via text message or email. Testing will be provided at school by our testing partner, CIC Health.


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