Beyond Dependency Learning: scaffolding, crutches and stabilisers.


scaffold1 Scaffolding is the means to an end…but the building should stand alone.

One of the challenges we face as teachers is knowing how much help to give.  There are so many examples of structured support across a range of learning experiences: arm-bands in swimming, stabilisers on a bicycle… the vocab crib-sheet in language learning.  They are all designed to provide support in the early phases of learning, with the explicit goal of removing them later on.  The question is when.  My feeling is that, too often, we leave the support structure in place for too long and students develop a dependency; an over-reliance on the support and a mutually reinforcing fear of failure.

I remember teaching my daughter to ride her bike.  It was a classic parenting moment.   With stabilisers, it was a piece of cake. But, once they were off, she didn’t find it easy.  One day I was…

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