I have a seven year old, a first grader. Recently he read and passed comprehension questions on a third grade-level reading passage. Third grade. He solves algebraic problems with me while we wait for our meals when out at restaurants. He questions everything, makes connections to the world around him, and speaks and reads in Spanish. He is a wonder. And yet... he is one of the most frustrating and challenging beings I have ever met.
He argues, because he thinks he knows better. He cries, because we ask him to complete a task he doesn't want to do. He sulks, because his homework will take too long. He focuses, because the task at hand is challenging and rewarding. He persists, because he can see the end in sight. He works, because he loves to help. He investigates, because he thrives on knowing more.
That curious, smart, and people-pleasing boy has been shying away more and more from compliance in recent days. Non-compliance - a character trait that could serve him well as an adult, to push the boundaries, to pursue and intently engage with challenging topics, to learn as he sees fit. But right now, as a first grader, it looks like defiance, it looks like the inability to complete tasks, it looks like the inability to maintain focus. My husband and I talk to him daily about behavior and what he's learning. We're present, and involved. He tries to be as well, but right now he's struggling a bit to see the point.
How many students does this describe? How many teachers are frustrated with students and the lack of compliance, the lack of completed work, the inability to maintain focus? Does an incomplete assignment mean a lack of mastery? Does a complete assignment ensure mastery? Is compliance the goal of the task?