Friday, 25 May 2012

Thank You, Mr Maloney, for helping my child to fail.

From the title, I expect you think this post is all negative. That's logical, based on the failure element of it, but it's wrong. This was a magic moment that happened with a parent the other day.

Her child - a bright girl - has done really well with me this year but, as I keep saying, I've not really done that much, it was all her own efforts. Her mother responded by saying something really interesting, in my opinon, which is paraphrased below:

Every year we've been told how well she's doing, how she's brilliant at everything and is top of the class. You've told us how she's all of those things, but also how she can move forward and what we can do and why we should. You've put her in positions where she'll fail, where she can't rely on her academic intelligence and watched her struggle and then explained why it's okay to feel that frustration and how to overcome it. Thank you, Mr Maloney, for helping my child to fail.

This comment came off the back of a lot of work about the importance of coping strategies for higher ability children, but all children in general. The root of this was started by a quote which I was introduced to by Dawn Hallybone, a teacher in London.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Samuel Beckett

That's up on my door and I make the meaning of that quote tangible in every activity I do. I purposely plan opportunities for failure as it is not the great demon that children historically are told they should avoid, but a companion on their learning journey towards a successful and invigorating future.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I think it's an important life skill that children (and adults alike) learn how to deal with failure (or 'feedback' as I like to call it!) Children who meet failure in a positive and supportive environment are perhaps more likely to learn how to grow and be resilient from a younger age. It will give them an inner strength that will help them cope with life's challenges!!