We have all heard, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." What happens when you don't succeed, though? Do you really try again? Or do you give up?
A new study by French researchers found that children who were told learning can be difficult, and that failing is a natural part of the learning process, actually performed better on tests than kids not given such reassurances.
As a Psychologist who works with success and the benefits of failure every day, I believe there is no better way to take the punch out of failure and keep a kid going on work than to train them to fail with grace.
In the study, they focused on a widespread cultural belief that equates academic success with a high level of competence and failure with intellectual inferiority.
We place so much emphasis on being first or being the best and the fastest. The truth is that most of the kids I have met throughout the years didn't have academic problems and didn't have intelligence problems, although they presented as though they did, and their school reports said as much. Their main problem was that they did not know how to keep going once they did something wrong, so they would give it up, become frustrated and then try to do anything and everything else but the work. At the end of the day, they would miss out on material because of that avoidance. Work avoidance, lost homework, hidden homework. All of these are common problems, but the underlying issue is not always about academics.
Most parents bring their kids in for help because they either refuse to work or seem to have a learning problem. After years of watching what fear of failure does to kids, I believe that practicing the process of how to fail with grace, taking the emotion out of it and getting right back to the work is the key to doing well. If frustration has the ability to take a child away from work and make him never want to go back, then it is my job to help him learn how to tolerate the frustration and move on. Teaching them to get back in the "game" after failing or making a mistake is an important psychological part of helping them succeed. Over time, doing that takes the emotional punch out of failing and helps kids learn that it is a natural part of learning. Without it, they don't stay with the process of learning. It's not something to run away from but something to be embraced and taken on. Once they learn how to just go back and try again automatically, they can begin to do that on everything they take on because it can become habit.
While working with the academics, one must also make sure to pay attention to the psychological patterns and expectations or you could see no movement at all.
"By being obsessed with success, students are afraid to fail, so they are reluctant to take difficult steps to master new material" says Frederique Autin, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Poitiers and the author of the study published in the American Psychological Association. "Instead, acknowledging that difficulty is an important part of growing intellectually and mastering new skills, could stop a vicious circle in which difficulty creates feelings of incompetence that in turn disrupts learning," Autin added. An understanding that all things will not be an immediate success and that learning will take time and involve some mistakes, can help to keep a child's expectations at a realistic place and keep them working after setbacks.
Failure can be motivating. Keep in mind that some of the most famous, wealthy, successful people we have known have all failed at one time in their lives, including: Henry Ford, R.H. Macy, F.W. Woolworth, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Harrison Ford, Jerry Seinfeld and Albert Einstein. Walt Disney was actually told that "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas" by a newspaper editor. How's that for a perspective changer? Just imagine if these people had stopped trying! The failure was a gift -- shaping them into what they were really supposed to be doing.
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The kids are going to love it. It is something that all of us have wanted and asked for throughout our time in school. No homework! Have the Gods of forgiveness shined down upon the kids to finally let them have time away from school work? The schools doing this have cited reasons of allowing more time with family and with friends, but I am cautious and pessimistic about that.
As a professional who trains better processing skills, I have been very up close and personal with many families over the 28 years I have been doing this work. I know that the fights over getting homework done, tops the list of issues between parents and kids. As one of the more common things I would help parents solve, I knew that it was a way that parents could know what their kids were doing at school.
When I first heard the teaser about this story coming up while watching TV, the first thought I had was about Common core and the anger it has caused in many of the parents I talk to as well as the postings I see on various social media. None of those are positive and most are very critical. I have also talked to many friends of mine who feel the same way about their own kid's schools. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a way for what happens in school to stay in school. You know, like the ad for Vegas. What better way to tone down the battles and stop the opposition from the parents who are livid about the changes to their kid's day and school life? Common Core and maybe more with no pushback from parents.
When the clip came on, It confirmed my thoughts. What better way for parents to be cut out completely from what their kids are being taught and how. The hard part for me, is that most parents want to know what their child is doing in school. They want to be sure that the information being taught is good for their child and also appropriate. If this becomes normal operating procedure for all schools, I wonder how that will be possible?
As a parent, what do you think about this change? Share/comment above or below to get people talking and learning about what is happening.
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