Why You Should Choose To Learn the Hard Way

Photo by Lisda Kania Yuliani

“You don’t want to have to learn the hard way,” is probably one snippet of advice that you’ve heard all too often from well-meaning parents, friends, aunts or co-workers.

But while this may certainly be sound advice in some cases, research suggests that “the hard way” can at times be a more efficient teacher, and letting students struggle before offering guidance may lead to deeper conceptual understanding and the ability to transfer what was learned to new problems.

“Failure provides information of what is working and what is not, thereby creating an awareness of what is missing. It also helps learners notice what is important, which can lead to better conceptual understanding,”

“failure can be beneficial because it generates an interest in finding the correct solutions,”

Considering the potential benefits of allowing students to struggle, I would suggest a rather novel approach to teaching and learning; namely “designing for failure,” or in other words, intentionally setting things up in such a way that learners will need to fail before they can succeed.