Why I Banned the Word Easy

I know "easy" isn't a bad word in the traditional sense. But here's why I banned it in my classroom.

By Jennifer Hartmann Teacher Trainer | Aug 31, 2015
Banned Word Easy

In my fourth grade class, I noticed that some students were being unkind without really realizing it. When a student was struggling with a problem, another student might say, “That’s easy.” They really did just mean that it was easy, but of course it made the struggling student feel bad. No one wants to hear that something should be easy when it genuinely feels hard. I told my students that we were banning the word “easy” from my class.

I told them, “Something that feels easy to you, might be difficult to someone else. Just like something that is difficult for you might be easy for someone else. We all have different strengths and challenges. Good thing! It would be boring if we were all the same. We need some people who are really good at math to become engineers and help design the things we use every day. We need some people who are really good at writing to write books and we need artists to draw the pictures for the books. We need all kinds of different people in the world. When something is hard for us, it just means we need to keep trying. But we don’t want to give up when things are hard, just because it’s easy for someone else. Let’s all agree that we will no longer use the word ‘easy’ in this class.”

Another great benefit to banning the word easy is that it helped develop a growth mindset in my students. It’s important that kids aren’t just satisfied doing easy work that makes them feel accomplished. I really want my students to choose to be challenged, even when, rather – especially when – they won’t do as well at first. When they feel that what they’re doing is easy, that means that they aren’t choosing hard enough work.

I know “easy” isn’t a bad word in the traditional sense. But banning it from our classroom did make a big difference! It helped students understand that we all learn in different ways, and it made our classroom a much kinder place to learn.

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