Learned helplessness is the belief that our own behavior does not control outcomes or results. For example, a child that believes she is in charge of the outcome thinks, “If I study hard for this test, I’ll get a good grade,” but a learned helpless child thinks, “No matter how hard I study for this test, I’ll always get a bad grade.” In school, learned helplessness relates to poor grades and underachievement, and to behavior difficulties. Students who are repeatedly exposed to school failure; for example, children with a learning disability, are particularly prone to develop learned helplessness. As a result of repeated academic failure, learned helpless children doubt their own abilities and doubt that they can do anything to overcome their school difficulties. As a consequence, they decrease their effort, particularly when facing difficult tasks, which leads to more school failure and learned helplessness.
On my 6-page article, When Children Fail in School: What Teachers and Parents Need to Know about Learned Helplessness, I discuss in-depth this very important topic, including a comprehensive list of characteristics of learned helpless children. The optimistic and pessimistic explanatory styles, as introduced by Seligman et al., are discussed. The article also explores the importance of strategy retraining, attribution retraining, and the belief that strategic effort increases ability and skills; all instrumental in helping children overcome learned helplessness. To read this article in full, click here.
A Call to All Teachers:
Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”