You just need Sitzfleisch

from a New York Times article: “Don’t Teach Math, Coach It”:

“These games are difficult, but also, for many kids, kind of addictive. Which means they also teach sitzfleisch, the ability to focus on a complicated skill for the length of time it takes to master it. Math needs that. (Baseball does, too.) It fits with the research of the psychologist Carol Dweck, which suggests that mentors should emphasize effort over native ability. We can’t really teach kids to do things; we can only teach them to practice things.

Sitzfleisch is a German loanword in English. It literally means “sitting flesh” or “seat meat” or your butt, but ( 😉 ) it’s used to mean stick-to-itiveness (the ability to stick to something until you really understand it and know how to do it), the ability to persevere in a task, staying power.

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I’ve always thought that teaching is more effective when it’s like coaching, especially when we’re talking about language learning. It amazes me that so many language teachers are still using lectures to “teach”. How can a person possible learn to communicate in a language when they sit and listen to a lecture about that language? Mystifying.

Learning language (and math, and baseball, as the author of the article says) is about sitzfleisch. That doesn’t mean you should be sitting on your sitzfleisch the whole time, of course. 😉


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