3260 – Understanding Students’ Resistance

The Skillful Teacher

Responding to Students Resistance

Brookfield talks about understanding the source of the resistance before you can try to help the student. What is resistance to learning anyway?

Here are some examples:

  • Students who don’t think they can learn
  • Students are afraid
  • When students preferred learning style is at odds with the way its being taught
  • Inappropriate level of learning required
  • Students don’t like the teacher

Teachers should review the causes of learning and justify to see if a change is necessary.

  • Try to sort out the cause of the resistance.
  • Ask yourself if the resistance is justified?
  • Research your students background
  • Build a case for learning
  • Create situations where students succeed
  • Don’t push too fast
  • Acknowledge that resistance exists
  • Be Transparent

I like how Brookfield explained that resistance can be mitigated. Using multiple channels for communication is one that comes to mind.

In my situation my training involves teaching my peers, coworkers, and executives. One resistance that I have to consider is if the participants have negative feelings about the organization or his/her manager, the individual will bring that negativity into the session.

I truly believe that as teachers the most important thing we can do to mitigate resistance is to recognize it so we can deal with it before it undermines the learning process.


Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.