Dean of Learning
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled “The rise of the helicopter parent at Australian universities” discussed the increase in the number of parents who want to “rescue” their adult children. (SMH April 28, 2019). While relatively new in universities, this phenomenon has been apparent in schools for many years now as parents try to protect their children from failure and disappointment. Of course, it is important that parents remain engaged in the lives of their children and take an interest in their studies. There is however, a fine line between wanting success for our children and not allowing them to falter or experience disappointment. Not allowing children to fail can in fact achieve the exact opposite of what parents would hope to achieve.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
Failure, while painful, is a vital part of living and is one of life’s best teachers. There are many lessons to be gained from failing at something. First, we gain experience. When we do not immediately succeed at something, we are altered and walk away with firsthand experience. This allows us to reflect on what occurred and helps us to develop a deeper understanding. We gain knowledge. As a result of failing, we learn directly what works and what doesn’t. We become more resilient. We learn that in order to succeed we need to persevere and that success does not always come easily. We grow. When we fail and try again, we change and adapt. We learn to value our failures. In fact, we often learn more from our failures than from our successes. The real issue is that society tends to celebrate the successes rather than highlighting the epic journeys towards success that are filled with trials, tribulations, upsets, setbacks, and failures.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas A. Edison
Here at Loreto, we encourage our students to take risks in their learning. We understand that failure is an important part of the learning experience and that learning to respond to failure is critical. Failure is an inevitable, and essential, part of life. Failure can bolster the motivation to overcome the obstacles that caused the failure. It shows children what they did wrong so they can correct the problem in the future. Failure connects actions with consequences which helps students gain ownership of their efforts. By reframing failure as a natural part of the learning process rather than as a negative end result, the stigma can be taken out of failure and students can learn to see failure as their friend. The skills we want our students to take with them beyond school are ones they’ll practise throughout their lifetime. We can begin by equipping them with the understanding that embracing failure and overcoming fear are both a part of living and learning.
Mrs Maryse Martin
Dean of Learning