Why failing first leads to success.

He won’t do any work in class.

She never turns in homework.

She is capable, but doesn’t work up to her potential…

If you have been  an educator for any length of time, you’ve had a child like this in your classroom. You’ve tried every strategy that you can think of–nothing is working.

Maybe you are a parent with a child  like this right now and you are out of ideas…

What can you do?

One of the amazing things about children in particular but really all of us, is that the brain has an infinite capacity to change.  In the not too distant past, we used to think that once certain habits or behavior was established that people rarely changed.  We now know that the brain continues to develop well into the 20’s and that we can make major changes in everything from our outlook to the way that we function for our entire lives.  This is called brain  plasticity.

How do we make the most of this amazing human quality?  One of the ways is by encouraging children to develop a growth mindset that basically says, “Excellence is a process.  Failure is not the end of the road but instead it is how you learn.”

Here is a video that illustrates this well:

Knowing that how you handle mistakes, failure and losing is an important indicator of how successful you are, how can we best encourage students?

In their excellent book, Switch, Chip and Dan Heath, describe a study with students who were doing poorly in math.  They  were divided into two groups.  One group spent time in a a generic study skills class.  The other group spent time in a growth mindset class where they were taught that the mind is like a muscle.  The more you work it, the smarter you become. They were reminded of how they had learned non-academic skills like skateboarding and how everything is hard before you master it.

The results?  The study skills group continued to have declining grades.  However, the growth mindset group significantly outperformed the  other group.  They reversed the downward trend, some of them dramatically.  Teachers who were unaware of the group students  were assigned to, were asked to identify the students who had made the most positive gain.  Seventy-five percent of the students they identified were in the growth mindset group.

What is truly amazing about this study is that the students improved in math, a cumulative subject and they  were not taught anything specific  to math skills!  Think about this for a moment;  just learning that you have the ability to learn and excel despite failure, caused students to improve in a specific skill.

How can you apply this information to students that you know?

How does this apply outside of the academic environment?

Related Posts:

3 Ways to Teach You Child to be a Leader

What if you embrace the difficulty?

Focusing on Joyful Parenting

 

Stuff Parents Want to Know:  Answers to Frequently Asked Questions 

In twenty years of school counseling I’ve been asked a lot of questions.  This ebook is a compilation of some of the most common ones along with some effective strategies and books you can read with your child to address the problem. stuffparents   Click on the link below to purchase:

Stuff Parents Want to Know: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions