No Free Lunch in Room 128

There has been a tide of discussion on where schools are headed and what they should do to correct themselves.  My thoughts go directly to one weakness, problem solving.  How can I make my students (and my own children) better at this skill?Problem (or at least what I see)

We need “Good deed doers,” divergent thinkers, and problem solvers.  We need students who don’t need to be hand-held and spoon-fed.  I tell my students this all the time, but I catch myself helping and enabling.  I know there is a line of helping and hindering and I also know there are times that I need to cross it in order for the student to learn.  If I help them too much, are they really learning?  Are they just playing a game and getting the teacher to provide the necessary information in order to complete the task?  That answer should be known by the teacher and each situation is different and so complex. (I hope I am not losing you in this banter…I am thinking out loud)

This reminds me of my high school psychology/sociology teacher, Mr. Evans, who had a sign hanging in his room that stated there was “No Free Lunch in Room 118.”  I always thought I knew what it meant, but it took years of teaching and having my own children to truly understand this statement.  I think my mother, father, and older generations had a better grasp on this philosophy because of the times in which they lived.  Maybe today’s difficult times will help a new generation understand that it takes hard work to get the things you need, to create, to design, to imagine greatness, and then be able to achieve it.

But I am scared. I am scared of what I see within our society.  I am scared of the flip side, of those who want things done for them, of those who don’t want to take the road less traveled.  It definitely feels like there is a large group of the populous that fits into this category.  Why does this scare me?  If we want to compete on the world stage, then we need well educated citizens and I am not talking about people who can perform well on multiple-guess standardized tests. I am talking about the problem solvers, the creative, and the divergent thinkers. The survival and the success of the United States (or any nation for that matter) depend on the education of our youth.

Solution (Just one possible solution)

What am I doing to help?  I don’t feel like I am doing enough.  I am crossing the line too often and I am not letting the students sink or swim.  I know I am over-exaggerating and I also know I have helped many students see their potential, but I can do more.  I can expect more and demand more from all of my students.

Solution = Consistent and High Expectations = Higher Probability of Self-Reliance

What will hang in my classroom this coming school year?

“No Free Lunch in Room 128”



Image Credit:




2 thoughts on “No Free Lunch in Room 128”

  1. Great post, Zack.  I know exactly what you are talking about.  I attribute it to lack of available time but I find myself offering way too many answers instead of letting the students figure things out for themselves.  Think we can get a discount if we get lots of “No Free Lunch” signs printed for next school year?

Comments are closed.