Struggle is the friend of learning

What do you do when faced with a new or unfamiliar task that turns out to be more challenging than you first thought? Do you dig in your heels, roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, [insert your favourite idiom here] and stick with it until it bows to your superior might? Or do you find some more pleasant way of spending your time?

The second half of last week was one of mental struggle for me as I tried to figure out (a) how to get a piece of software to do what I wanted it to do, and (b) why it wasn’t doing what I expected it to do. To add to my frustration, I had a deadline looming. Good thing for me I’d read these articles, and knew to not to discount my struggling:

  • A Really Hard Test Really Helps Learning – “When we struggle to learn something, and fail, the moment we finally get the answer it imprints itself more deeply on our mind than it would have had struggle and failure not preceded it.”
  • Why Floundering is Good – “The more you struggle and even fail while you’re trying to master new information, the better you’re likely to recall and apply that information later.”
  • Struggle for Smarts? – “For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in schoolchildren is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated but is often used to measure emotional strength.”

The thought that comes to my mind is whether this struggle is a product of the fall. Will the inhabitants of the new heavens and new earth have new intellects that will grasp everything at the first? Or will there still be learning curves? Or will there be nothing left to learn? I can only wonder…