[noun]  dis·equi·lib·ri·um

a loss or lack of balance

By identifying their own disequilibrium, my students were able to continue to struggle with a concept or problem without “getting it right.”

“When I began teaching mathematics to first graders, I based the success of my lessons on the happiness of my students… If students became unhappy, got stressed out, or seemed frustrated, I was known to actually stop a lesson and start an activity sheet…The focus in my classroom was not on worthwhile tasks but on tasks everyone would succeed with – at varying speeds. (p. 134)”.

Naturally, I am a people pleaser and wonder that as a teacher one of my biggest struggles could be making class fun and likable vs effective and worthwhile. Of course it is natural to want students to succeed and often educators can feel like failures if the success doesn’t come right away. I am glad to have read this article and become more aware because I feel this is critical to grasp before becoming a teacher. Having a firm understanding that confusion, especially in math, is normal and a part of the learning process will help not only the teaching process, but the parents involvement as well.

Jean Piaget (1970) described disequilibrium as a conflict between new ideas and current conceptions. The idea of disequilibrium and the notion that “if you’re not struggling you’re not learning” is not the approach I would first have when teaching 1st graders. Though I feel it is quite true for life and a valuable lesson beyond mathematics for students  who don’t always succeed on the first try.


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