Educators have long advocated for reframing “failure” positively as a “learning opportunity,” but when failure becomes so normal and expected in a student’s life that it causes abject resignation, it leads to learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a psychological condition associated with feelings of lost control, and it creates students who disengage from effort, even if the effort is within reach and will clearly lead to success.
This phenomenon develops early, so it’s critical that elementary educators have an understanding and awareness of the condition. Educators of older students also should be knowledgeable about learned helplessness, since it has a detrimental influence on academic performance and mental well-being, as demonstrated in a 2007 video of an experiment that shows college-age adults giving up on a classroom task in just 10 to 15 minutes.
Equitable Education Alliance (EEA) is a community of practice for organizations; ministries, agencies and NGO’s who strives to push for a more inclusive and equitable educational system while enhancing the performance of existing equitable education organizations at all levels
This Website has been developed by the Lifelong Learning and Literacy Team, Educational Innovation and Skills Development, UNESCO Bangkok.
Disclaimer UNESCO does not warrant that the information, documents and materials contained in its website is complete and correct and shall not be liable whatsoever for any damages incurred as a result of its use.