Why failing can actually help students succeed

Why failing can actually help students succeed Failing forward. It’s great to tell other parents to let their children fail, but when it comes to our kids – sometimes we just can’t do it.

Failure is an opportunity for students to realize limits, adjust and learn from mistakes. They are CEO’s of their lives and now is the best time for them to learn how to move on from failure. (Yes, say it three times to convince yourself.)

The list is long. This includes failing a test, not making the team, being excluded from a club or group, getting fired from a part-time job and the biggest one of all, not being accepted into the college of their choice.

We have all been there. For whatever reason it starts in third grade. This is the time they want to start spreading their wings of independence. So they do their own projects and many of them look like, well, third-grade work, kind of sloppy but very cute. And best of all we say to ourselves with a smile on our face, “Well, at least they did it by themselves.”

But, how interesting when other projects in our kids group look as if they have been touched by the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright or Chagall. Either these third graders were already skilled enough to enroll in the MIT School of Architecture, or their parents “helped” them…a lot.

You know what I’m talking about. When you walk into the library/media center and give a quick glance across the room you quickly measure other projects against your kids and get a lump in your throat and immediately think how it will affect their grades, overall GPA and ability to make the Principal’s Honor Roll.

You panic and start beating yourself up by asking “Should I have helped my kids?” And then you start doubting the other decisions of letting our kids do things on their own.

So you know the next dilemma – tutors. Do you want to be one of those parents who turn to “grade saviors” every time the GPA falls a half of a point. You ask yourself, are you doing this so they learn or don’t fail?

So rather than succumbing to a lifetime of potential failure we again ask ourselves, do we jump in for the rescue or think we are bad parents for doing nothing to help.

In actuality we are so busy helping our kids succeed, we are afraid to let them fail. Messing up is wildly unacceptable.

Although error and experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation. They are vigilant about positioning their children for success, which is now deemed to run on the straight-and-narrow path of academic achievement, from the earliest age, without what seems like any downtime to just be a kid.

Parents have turned into bulldozers ready to remove any barrier that stands in the way, afraid to let their children fail.

Well-intentioned parents want their children to be able to compete in a global economy. The pressure starts early. Kindergarten is no longer for socialization.

Kindergartners are expected to learn how to read and do simple math. You know, get them started early. And if they are failing in cutting and pasting then something must be wrong, and you need to get them tested immediately.

It’s not parents’ responsibility to fix problems but to show their kids how to do it. So instead of an “F” standing for failure perhaps we need to ensure that the very same “F” needs to stand for fortitude and fearlessness.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, founder of The Student Success Project and previously Think Factory Marketing. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or via email at ritchie@thestudentsuccessproject.com, and on Facebook and YouTube as The Student Success Project.


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