Director of Pastoral Care
Brave not Perfect
We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage
A Loreto education strives to promote in each student ‘a sense of worth, dignity and self-acceptance’. As educators, we play a collaborative role with parents, instilling in them the skills and values which will allow them to develop this sense of worth, whilst pursuing their strive for personal excellence. Thereby, we want our girls to develop ‘grit’ where in their pursuit of meaningful goals, they exemplify passion and perseverance (Duckworth 2016). Having such passion and perseverance allows one to bounce back from hardship and also contributes to success. Grit is important because it is a driver of success, yet to feel successful students need to feel empowered by a sense of purpose and meaning. It is within this ‘purpose and meaning’ that we play an important role in guiding young people to truly appreciate what matters most. It is here that we are reminded of the values we hold pivotal to a Loreto education and experience. We want each of our students to find their own moral compass and have the courage to act justly, yet when they make poor choices, we want them to take responsibility for their actions, allowing them to move forward from mistakes. In such events, young people need to be affirmed and reminded of the need for compassion by their families, teachers and indeed themselves.
Through our holistic curriculum, we challenge our students to be healthy ‘risk takers’ and help them see that when faced with set-backs, finding the strength and resilience to try again, becomes a wonderful accomplishment. We also encourage our girls to stretch themselves beyond what is easily comfortable so that the challenges of life will bring new learnings – we urge them to be critical thinkers, inquisitive, collaborative and optimistic. We support them to be the best version of themselves, allowing them to be nurtured by their faith and spirituality, encouraging them to be advocates for justice and to choose to live with a sense of freedom, sincerity and verity.
So how do we then achieve the balance in teaching our students to ‘worry less about fitting into glass slippers, and more about shattering the glass ceilings?’ In her TED talk ‘Teach girls bravery not perfection’, Resham Saujani suggests that it is about overcoming a ‘bravery deficit’, where paradoxically, girls in broader society are faced with a socialisation of perfection. Bravery, she argues, requires something different: a growth mindset, adaptability, vulnerability and self-compassion; guiding them towards lives of independence, creativity and courage. Teaching young people to ‘be brave, not perfect’ adds to their intellect and empathy, allowing them to be significant contributors to solving 21st century problems. However, in order to achieve this, we must allow them to experience failure. Such setbacks in a young person’s life can be viewed as pivotal in shaping them and building their capacity to develop resilience and self-belief, whilst knowing that there are always more opportunities to follow.
Jessica Lahey, in ‘The Gift of Failure’ (2016) advises that even though it is a natural instinct to protect a child from hurt, parents should allow them to feel the full emotional brunt of disappointment. She maintains that a ‘more directive’ style of parenting, rather than giving children guidance with the leeway to learn, has the potential to undermine confidence and may impact a child’s education. She urges parents to:
- step back and embrace their children’s failures, encouraging them to practice bravery by trying again and taking on new risks.
- model resilience and problem solving – providing them examples of how you have been faced with obstacles, yet have been able to overcome challenges.
- re-consider attempts to rescue and save children from a challenge. Such efforts may be sending them a message that they are incapable and unworthy of trust, therefore diminishing their engagement and motivation.
- respect and value the partnership with their children’s educators.
We certainly value the strong partnership that we share between family and school, working together to support your daughters to overcome challenges, as they navigate their path of personal achievement and success.
Mrs Lynn Long
Director of Pastoral Care