Director of Learning
We are measured by what we do with life, not by marks achieved in a test.
A new school year is one that is always filled with excitement and promise. Every year is a fresh start, new teachers, new classes and new friends to make. This week the school came to life, as the corridors filled with happy voices and friends renewing friendships. Teachers have enjoyed getting to know your daughter.
As parents we want the best for our children; we want them to achieve and to not encounter difficulties along the way. Sadly this does not support the development of a capable adult who can navigate the messiness of life. We know from a large body of research that our children need to learn to take responsibility for their actions and learn from mistakes.
Psychologist Judith Locke says that when children do not encounter small, manageable challenges, they struggle with life as an adult as they have not developed problem solving life skills. Professor Carol Dweck tells us that we must encourage in our students a growth mindset, where the student sees school as a place to develop their abilities and think of challenges as opportunities to grow. Psychologist Lisabeth Saunders Medlock tells us that there are powerful lessons to be learned from mistakes. Julie Lythcott-Hiams tells us we should approach parenting as Ready. Set. Let Go. Tom Nehmy tells us we need to learn how to develop a healthy, balanced, emotional life. Links are located at the end of the article for more reading.
We believe that our role as teachers is to work with parents to develop a young woman who is able to face an uncertain world with a faith that supports ethical decision making, well developed learning and critical thinking skills and strong relationships, all of which supports their capacity to navigate their world successfully.
The key to developing these capacities is to allow our students to make mistakes. As humans we need to make mistakes to learn why an action was unsuccessful. It would be lovely if we could read about a mistake and learn from it. Occasionally we can but mostly we have to live it. School is a safe place to make mistakes, to learn and to grow.
You can empower your daughter in so many ways by allowing her to take responsibility to solve her own problems. When she tells you she forgot an assignment was due or she had a test, or forgot her lunch, encourage her to work out how to sort it out. Sometimes it means receiving less marks because the assignment was rushed. She will learn to be attentive to due dates. She won’t if you provide her with an excuse.
When she tells you she worked hard but didn’t receive the marks she was hoping for, ask her what small action she could do to add one mark next time. This is an achievable goal and every mark accumulates. Ask her what is something she could do differently next time in preparation. If she is unsure, encourage her to talk to her teachers. They will be able to suggest something. Talk to her about how you would approach solving the problem by providing her with a sounding board, encourage her to talk it over with her teacher and see what works. But don’t do it for her.
Praise her for perseverance rather than an end result. Marks are less important than learning effective problem solving skills. Students can be risk adverse as they want to know that they can get it right. Yet the more complex the work, the less likely it is that there is an easily accessible answer. This is life. Learning to learn is more important than easy answers. Encourage your daughter to take advantage of the many opportunities there are at Loreto, to engage with teachers for extra support. Learning@Breakfast and learning@lunch are times when teachers are available for extra support.
Secondary school is a mere blip in a long life. We are measured by what we do with life, not the marks achieved in a test. Help us to prepare your daughter for life beyond school by letting her take responsibility for her learning.
Mrs Megan Pursche
Director of Learning
- Bonsai parenting: Why so many children end up in therapy
- Growth Mindset for Parents
- Why Parents Who Tell Their Kids How Smart They Are Aren’t Doing Them Any Favors
- Don’t Fear Failure: Nine Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes
- The Parents League of New York: Essential Articles on Parenting and Education
- Healthy Minds Program