Having been in the teaching profession for 5 years now, I have developed all the cynicism and grumbling rhetoric of all but the most seasoned of complainants. We are a profession of martyrs who seem to relish playing the victim. Don’t get me wrong, we are under huge pressures and some of the expectations and demands we are subjected to are simply ludicrous, but I feel that argument has been made many times, far more eloquently than I could. My question is whether we as teachers, actually add to our already substantial burden. We are constantly encouraged to develop more resilient, more independent learners and I feel we are seeing a generation of students who actually are less resilient and less independent than ever before. I am a huge advocate of promoting positive mental health and indeed I run a campaign to encourage young men to talk more about their problems so I am not belittling mental health issues or the importance of looking after it. There is evidence to suggest that young people are not equipped to deal with the pressures and strains of today’s society and it is my opinion that we have actually contributed to that. Now I expect to be vilified for making such a statement and I would never suggest that we do it deliberately, and I believe that the reasons are due to the vast pressures we are put under. As a maths teacher I am always trying to expose my classes to more challenging work and in preparation for the new GCSEs I am trying to incorporate more problem solving activities into my lessons. Many teachers, particularly in my subject, will claim to do the same, however how many teachers have done this and found that immediately a hand or 5 will go up asking for help? We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve set a task and then panicked as seemingly the whole class don’t know where to start. It’s a terrifying moment as a teacher as your head goes into overdrive as you question your ability as a teacher, you try to work out how you are going to get the lesson in the direction you want and you frantically try to formulate a plan B in case it is unsalvageable. More often than not you will tear around the class explaining to small groups at a time exactly what they need to do in an attempt to save the lesson. At the end of the lesson you congratulate yourself for putting out all the fires and reluctantly admit that maybe the task was a bit too much at this stage and you decide to put the rich, investigative tasks on the back burner for a while. But ask yourself what have you achieved in this lesson? The students have gone away having been able to complete the task but have you caused more harm than good? The main lesson your class will have taken away from the lesson is that when life gets hard, someone else will get them out of trouble. That may sound extreme and you are perfectly entitled to disagree but I believe we as teachers are guilty of doing too much for our students. We hate to see people struggle and we hate to see our lessons fail. But if you change your perception of what a successful lesson is then you might change you ways for the better. I don’t believe we should work harder for the students than they are willing to work for themselves. When a student is stuck, what is wrong with telling them you are not going to help them? In helping them you may be helping them get the right answer but are you really helping them? My ideal classroom is one where I have to do very little. Too many teachers are worried about not being the most important resource in the room and feel that a lesson will fail if they don’t give their all in it. My classes learn far more when I spend my time working hard outside of lessons getting the activity right so that in lessons the class can work through the problems and find solutions to the problems themselves. The more we allow students to struggle in our classrooms the more we will find they are becoming more resilient to challenges and the more independent they will become. And it is not only in the classroom that we do too much. I have worked in different schools where extra revision and help sessions are run daily for students. Once again meaning that staff don’t get a lunch break, don’t have time after school to plan and subsequently are more tired at the end of the day, have less time to plan high quality lessons and they work themselves into the ground meaning they become disenfranchised with the profession, blaming anyone and everyone but themselves. The more we do for students, the more they rely on us. If you want to create independent, resilient learners, stop doing everything for them. Soon enough their habits will change from immediately asking for help, to thinking “how am I going to sort this out for myself?” We all know that the education system is constantly changing and we will soon have other pressures and gripes to complain about but if we prepare our students by allowing them to be stuck and allowing them to struggle we will be helping create a generate of young who are better prepared for the an ever changing and ever more challenging society. So my challenge to you as teachers is this: next time a student says they are stuck, respond by asking them what they have done for themselves to get unstuck and leave them to it. You’ll soon change their habits and you might actually find it makes your life easier too.