The Resistance

I love to learn but hate to be forced

There is always going to be students that are resistant to learning. Just like there is always going to be students who are late to class. We can try to encourage with grades and privileges but for some students it’s going to take a lot more work.

Looking at the cause of the resistance is a great start. Brookfield (2015) list some helpful ideas on finding out the root cause of the resistance. He starts with using feedback instruments like CIQs, one minute papers and learning audits. If those fail, it is time to take more action and have a meeting with the individual.

Just like every student has different learning styles, I feel every student has different reason behind their resistance to learning. I know in our program, we had one student that took our program only because her mom thought it was a great career choice for her. The student had no desire to be a CDA, She didn’t want to be in school at all. She had come straight from high school and was not mentally not prepared to be in post-secondary education. With no motivation to learn, her resistance was high. Once we understand the main reason for her resistance, it was clear to see that even with as much help and encouragement as we could give her, we would not able to create the drive she needed to succeed.

Brookfield (2015) includes modeling behaviours and dispositions as another way to help break down resistant students. I feel that modeling what we are expecting from our students is a must.  There is no way you would get away with saying “do as I say, not as I do”, in a classroom now a days. It just wouldn’t fly!  How could we expect our students to do something that we are not even prepared to do ourselves? We are teaching a great deal of generation x’ers and they need to know the relevance behind everything they are learning. We need to set an excellent example, to build up their confidence in us as their teachers.

Have clear expectation is also another example Brookfield (2015) uses to help with resistant students. Brookfield (2015) states that one benefit of using a grading rubric is that it enables students to see exactly what it is that you’re looking for in their work.  By giving your students as much information on a project or assignment as possible you are more likely to have less resistance from students.  Students don’t like surprises. I find time and time again I am asked by students about what my expectation will be on a final exam. In clinic our students are given a copy of all our clinical evaluation forms. There is a spot for their self, their peer and another full page for our final evaluation. Everything is laid out in great detail for them.  We walk through these exact forms when we do our demonstration in clinic.  Yet I still I have students ask what I expect from them! This is when I tell them to re-read the final evaluation and then come back and talk to me if your question has not been answered.

The battle with resistant students is a never ending journey. But it is one we can address and if we can succeed in breaking through a few barricades, I feel it is a battle worth fighting.


Brookfield, S.D (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.




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