I amazed my 17 year old son last night. It doesn’t happen often and certainly rarely in a positive way. Sometimes my ability to sing ANY song off key surprises him but this was different. He was in the midst of writing a reflection on his week for an English class and grumbling about how difficult it was to find anything to write about that mattered to him. I stated that writing was a great way to get your thinking straight on a subject. At least I found that when I blogged. It made me really consolidate my thinking and get my logic down. His jaw dropped. “You blog?” he asked, “How did I not know this?” I showed him my site and he was stunned, actually promising he would read it at some point.
Well I doubt that he will read it, he is simply being kind to an aging father, it did remind me of something. As educators, we need to make our own learning explicit. Often as teachers we extol the importance of learning throughout our lives, the importance of self reflection, of really grounding ourselves in our values but students rarely see what that looks like. They see a font of wisdom in front of the class that apparently holds intellectual mana for them to consume. Students have great respect for intelligent people. The problem is that often we don’t share with them how we became learned and how we stumbled and struggled throughout the learning process.
We tell them to write, but they don’t see us write. We tell them that reading is the key to opening up their eyes to the world, but they don’t see us read. We tell them that failure is simply a mechanism that strengthens us and allows us to grow more completely but we rarely admit our faults and the roadblocks we have encountered in our lives. We’re doing a bit of a disservice to our kids by not giving them a bit of a preview about what life has in store for them. Evidently as a parent I do the same.
I say it time and time again and, those of you who read my blog regularly are sick of my mantra, show your students how to fail. Attempt things and, should they succeed, celebrate them. If they fail, reflect on them, tweak them and try again. I can’t say enough how impactful your actions are on kids view of learning. If we want our students to be resilient, we need to show them how to recover from failure and how to continue to grow.
Keep on learning,