Education Matters

Why failure can be the best teacher

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on Jul 17, 2017 6:00:00 AM

Why failure can be the best teacherFour ways to develop your child's growth mindset

When Trinity Grammar School hosted adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg for a parent evening, he expressed his significant concern for this generation of young people’s low level of resilience compared to previous generations. He implored parents and educators to refrain from protecting young people in cotton wool, and instead, encourage them to learn to stand on their own two feet and deal with setbacks. Here we explore why failure can be the best teacher.

In essence, failure allows our children to experience disappointment and reflect on what they could do differently next time, which stimulates learning and builds resilience and self-confidence.

Helping your son to develop what’s called a ‘growth’ mindset as opposed to a ‘fixed’ mindset can make a significant difference in determining his level of self-confidence, resilience and motivation. A growth mindset is when your son believes that his ability can be improved through effort and application. A fixed mindset is when a child believes his ability is fixed and unable to be changed. Dr Jenny Brockis, a brain health specialist, offers four ways to develop your child’s growth mindset:

1. Encourage liberally and use process praise
When congratulating children, use words that praise the outcome that has resulted from their hard work and effort, such as, “You used smart strategies,” “You worked hard on that one,” or “You thought long and hard to work that problem out.” When things go wrong, ask, “What could you do differently next time to get a better result?” Failure and making mistakes are normal. Learning to deal with them effectively helps build resilience.

2. Focus on struggle and effort, not just on victory 
Be on the look-out for times when your child applies sustained effort and application and applaud this.

3. Share stories of struggle and overcoming adversity with your son
Whether they are stories from your own life (boys love to hear about when their parents struggled) or stories from public news and sport, the narratives of the struggles of others can be inspiring, especially for boys.

4. Use the power of “Yet” 
If your child tells you, “I’m no good at...” or “I can’t do that,” your response could be, “You’re just not there ... yet.” This implies that it is work in progress and success may come through perseverance.

When they find themselves in adversity, instead of wanting to quickly relieve the unhappiness or stress of the situation by looking for short-fix solutions, we want our boys to realise that pausing and reflecting on what is being taught, allows them to learn and grow from the experience. We also want them to realise that there will be ups and downs, but without challenge they cannot grow and develop their God-given talents.

Every boy can make a difference to his academic potential if he:

  • seeks out challenges, rather than avoid them
  • is not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them
  • embraces feedback rather than ignoring it
  • reviews his assessment task results, and together with his teacher, identifies the knowledge and skills needed to improve.

With this type of mindset your son’s academic potential is unlimited!

At Trinity, we recognise the individual learning journey of every boy is different, and we strive to educate, inspire and nurture accordingly. We implement programmes specifically designed for boys, developing their mind, body and spirit, in an engaging and challenging environment.

To discover more about the benefits of an all-boys education and to experience the Trinity difference, register for our Open Day.

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Topics: Parenting tips, Boys' education, All boys education, Fathering, Raising boys, Adolescence, Improve learning, Boys learning, Education, Mental health