“So when parents say – as they often do- ‘I just want my child to be happy’, here is one of the best pieces of advice. Help them, and get their schools to help them, to discover what it is that they would love to be great at. Help them discover the ‘joy of the struggle’: the happiness that comes from being rapt in the process, and the quiet pride that comes from making progress on something that matters. And help them to understand and develop the craft of worthwhile learning – how to make best use of imagination, reasoning, concentration, collaboration, and so on. That is what BLP aims to do”
(Claxton, Chambers, Powell, Lucas, p. 26, 2011).
Today I finally watched ‘School Swap – The Class Divide’. It is a question I have often pondered,- what differences there are between the state and private sector (besides the money) and the impact on the learners.
No matter what school or context we are in, the quote above is so very apt. Children must become confident in themselves as learners. They must be given the tools and strategies to succeed in an ever-changing world, where success is defined not by the society we are in, but by them as individuals. If we as schools can provide them with a ‘toolkit’ for success (so to say), then we can help prepare them for the setbacks, challenges and obstacles that will surely come their way. They need to be equipped to bounce-back stronger, more resilient, focused and purposeful to persevere and try again. The moment they give up, is the moment that we, as schools, need to think what more we could have instilled in them to want to endure and be fortitudinous.
I love the idea of the ‘joy of the struggle’. How often have we seen our pupils suddenly light up with the realisation that they have finally conquered a skill they had been working on for what ‘seemed like ages’? The discussion that can be had with pupils after this happens is even more enlightening. They do explain the ‘process’ as challenging, yes, but exciting. Exhilaration is apparent in this process-the concentration that is applied to keep trying, to keep practicing and then to finally get it right. It is the excitement of the challenge and ‘error making’ that we need to embed in our children – allowing them the confidence and safety to make mistakes and then to learn from them, apply them and try it all again.
I think we sometimes don’t let this ‘struggle’ go on for long enough…we often give answers away too easily.
Correct answers and praise that come with little effort may hinder our children’s future ‘learning’ more than we know or understand.