Jump to content

Menu

What if the Secret to Success Is Failure? NYT article


Recommended Posts

This sounds interesting, but I won't have time to read it until later today so right now I'm just bumping it up to more easily see it again in a few hours.

 

Off hand, it sounds like I'll agree with it. Generally the "best" kids I see at school are those who have overcome significant hardships ("best" defined as pleasant to be around, hard working, driven, definitely going to succeed, not necessarily "top" academically). That said, there are MANY who don't overcome the hardships, so it's hard to recommend it as a style of bringing up children! (There are also some very nice "didn't have to overcome hardship" kids, but I'd put the majority into a "self-centered" category.)

 

I know ever since reading that article, "How to Land Your Child in Therapy" (or something worded similarly) I've been constantly rethinking what we've done as parents through their lives. It's led to some good discussions with the two boys left here at home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think that choosing a curriculum and educational style to best suit you child is in any way analagous to pressuring your child's school to raise his grades or allow her more time than everybody else to complete work, for no genuine reason. It's the difference between treating your child as a snowflake (she is a special, unique person) and believing your child to be a 'special snowflake' (he is more special than everyone else and deserves a Nobel prize just for showing up at school), and this difference relates to parenting style and family dynamics, rather than schooling choice. Parents can be stiflingly overprotective in any educational model.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would hope that real life experiences ( having to save for a toy, losing the scout election, not getting a part in the play) along with good parenting would give my kids plenty of chances to experience adversity.

 

Even those experiences are some that kids I've been around don't necessarily experience. We live in an affluent, competitive, highly educated and worldly area here. I'm not sure how much failure kids here experience off the sports field. At least not failure that someone isn't right there dusting them off from.

 

One of the few quotations from my ed school days that stuck with me is about the "neo-Adlerian" school of classroom management. The quotation was to the effect that failure is a good thing because it forces a student to change what they are doing in order to avoid failing in the future.

 

It's possible to go to far. To convince a person they should just give up. But our kids aren't really designed to be coddled; they aren't as delicate as we sometimes think they are. It can be hard as a parent to just stand by and let them fail. But sometimes it really is for the greater good in the end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has this been discussed yet?

 

Article

 

I sometimes worry (maybe not worry, but ponder) about how to develop perseverance in my kids. Everything in homeschooling is so custom designed, I'm afraid that sometimes even the hard things are made easy by my presence. How, as homeschoolers, can we develop some of the performance based characteristics that were defined in the article?

 

That was a very interesting article! To anyone reading it, it helps to go back to page one to get the whole thing - not just what is on page nine.

 

This part from page 2 really sums up what I see from our local public school as traits of those who are very likely to succeed. Unfortunately, those traits are rather rare.

 

"As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. Those skills weren’t enough on their own to earn students a B.A., Levin knew. But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day."

 

How can we instill those traits? I wish I knew. I'm not sure if it is failure (not just academically) as many give up when they fail. I'm not sure if it's encouragement. Those with $$ can assist their kids more, but as the article shows, it doesn't necessarily provide the "traits."

 

Right now, my middle son HAS these traits, but it's not due to us or how we raised him. He's been that way since toddlerhood. My oldest and youngest are academically high, but "trait-wise" are rather lazy and they've been that way since toddlerhood too. Is it genetic? I don't know. Can we change them? I don't know. I think "life" can, but I don't know that "life" always does. I don't think there's a set "way" of doing it.

 

The best I'll do is have my middle and youngest sons read the article and discuss it with them. (Oldest is in college already.)

 

Thanks for linking it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a very interesting article! To anyone reading it, it helps to go back to page one to get the whole thing - not just what is on page nine.

 

This part from page 2 really sums up what I see from our local public school as traits of those who are very likely to succeed. Unfortunately, those traits are rather rare.

 

"As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. Those skills weren’t enough on their own to earn students a B.A., Levin knew. But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day."

 

How can we instill those traits? I wish I knew. I'm not sure if it is failure (not just academically) as many give up when they fail. I'm not sure if it's encouragement. Those with $$ can assist their kids more, but as the article shows, it doesn't necessarily provide the "traits."

 

 

 

Thanks for linking it!

 

At the beginning/middle of the article, I really wasn't sure how they were going to develop those traits either. The way they made the traits part of the school culture, across the curriculum, was so interesting. It's not unlike how we instill the "moral" traits. I have some inner tug of war going on over which of the "performance" traits are biblical and which are worldly, and how that might change my own personal emphasis on them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My original intro (which in no way summarizes the article- so go read it!):

 

I sometimes worry (maybe not worry, but ponder) about how to develop perseverance in my kids. Everything in homeschooling is so custom designed, I'm afraid that sometimes even the hard things are made easy by my presence. How, as homeschoolers, can we develop some of the performance based characteristics that were defined in the article?

 

To expand on that, I don't mean not treating your child as an individual, taking learning style and such into account. I mean making them push through a certain amount of academic struggle. For example, my 9yo has a VERY hard time persevering through a math problem that he doesn't understand. Often, all it would take is reading the directions again. Now, I force this, but he complains the whole time. "Mom, I don't understand!! Why can't you just explain it to me! I've never learned this!" When the truth is, he absolutely knows how to do it, he just read the directions too fast. This is also a child who swims competitively and shows extreme amounts of perseverance in the pool. I think it is totally possible to develop these traits in one area of your life, while not in another. Is this just uneven development that will spread across the board as he matures? I don't know, maybe, maybe not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the beginning/middle of the article, I really wasn't sure how they were going to develop those traits either. The way they made the traits part of the school culture, across the curriculum, was so interesting. It's not unlike how we instill the "moral" traits. I have some inner tug of war going on over which of the "performance" traits are biblical and which are worldly, and how that might change my own personal emphasis on them.

 

The "moral" traits I think we all agree with and our school has also been trying to implement them over the years in a similar fashion as the one school in the article (KIPP).

 

The "perseverance" traits are the really difficult part IMO and even the author mentioned they didn't see the schools really being able to do that (esp the "rich" school) as much as "life."

 

The "perseverance" traits (grit) were the most indicative of success if I read it correctly. I don't really think these traits, themselves, are worldly. I think that's a mix of moral traits and how "grit" is applied.

 

Just my two cents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shannon-

I think this is definately worth discussing, as parents and especially as homeschooling parents. I just think of it as "how do I not spoil my children" or "how do I make my children strong". My clan still values traditional upright New England characteristics. We don't usually think of them in terms of church or religion, although our religion supports those values for the most part. (Our version of Christianity says that one should devote one's life to helping others and own nothing - a rather major conflict with values like "saving for a rainy day" and not "touching pitch". I was interested to see some of this is addressed in the two different lists of characteristics in the article. Another one of those balances - sigh.) My family traditionally relies on public school to keep their children from being spoiled, to teach them how to get along in the world. Even things like learning to walk to school and make yourself keep going and actually arrive at the hated place rather than hiding in the woods for the day was considered a valuable lesson in my family. My absolutely biggest worry when I chose to homeschool was that this wasn't going to happen. That worry outweighed any worries about academics by quite a bit.

 

As a parent, there are so many things that one has to force one's children, from toddler to teen, to do that seem utterly useless to them, from wearing clothes in public to being aware of one's reputation and not doing things that look suspicious even though they are innocent. I did not want to add all the academic and nonacademic lessons one learns at school on top of that. Ug. Parenting is hard enough even with the school helping. We are fortunate to live in a place where the schools still are managing for the most part to do their traditional job. I had to find some other ways to teach the bits I couldn't do at home. We did gymnastics, peacewalking, public school kindergarten and then gym in 1-3 (for the one who didn't do k-4 before homeschooling), and scouts. I opted not to try to reproduce some of the school format at home (like grades and firm deadlines). I am hoping that a few community college classes in 11th and 12th grade will teach those things.

 

Looking back at myself and my children, I think the best way to teach a young child persistence is for the child to do things that the child wants to do without an adult "facilitating". There is so much talk here about helping our children to learn the things when they are interested in them. It is much easier to teach an interested, willing child than an uninterested one. I didn't have this problem as much because mine aren't academically inclined and mine learned early that they liked exploring things on their own better because when I got involved, I added writing assignments and made them keep exploring past the point where their curiosity was satisfied. I sewed outfit after outfit for my dolls. I had pictures of beautiful ball gowns in my head and produced or began and abandonned the most horrible, unsatisfactory stuff imaginable. I just didn't have the necessary skills. Somehow, though, that didn't keep me from trying year in and year out. Eventually, in time enough to make clothes for my children, I figured it out and could come up with a workable plan and carry it out. It took a whole childhood of failure before I could do it, though. It seems like there has to be a more efficient way. And there is, if what you want is to teach the child to make doll clothes. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a more efficient way to teach a child to persist in trying to do something hard. My youngest and oldest learned by building things. My middle one worked hard at gymnastics. I'm not sure he learned the lesson as well as the two that did it on their own with no adult involved. All three have gone through a staggering number of failures in the process of learning. None of them have chosen to apply that lesson to academics, but we haven't really emphasized that in our family. If I could do it again, I would probably put more emphasis on that connection. Maybe.

 

Maybe the trick is to find an area that you don't care about but for your child is a strong enduring interest and then give the child lots of time and enough resources to do it, enough resources but not too many because necessity is the mother of invention and invention is also an important characteristic. I have noticed that giving too much instruction or too many resources takes away too much of the satisfaction and "ruins it" (spoils the interest).

 

I would be very interested in how other people manage this.

 

Nan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It took a whole childhood of failure before I could do it, though. It seems like there has to be a more efficient way. And there is, if what you want is to teach the child to make doll clothes. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a more efficient way to teach a child to persist in trying to do something hard.

This is a great point, and has given me a lot to think about. Thank you for posting. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...