Our children are encountering a world in which mediocrity and failure are not only accepted, they’re frequently celebrated.
• Children receive participation trophies without regard to effort or results (Teams can give up, demonstrate poor sportsmanship, players don’t show, yet everyone still receives a trophy)
• Children who can’t read are promoted from one grade level to the next.
• Children are praised for being special when they do simple, ordinary things, sometimes poorly.
These actions, which are often well-intentioned, lack foresight and have devastating consequences. Children are experiencing record levels of depression, anxiety, and self-harm. This suggests that something isn’t right.
In reality, we learn from failure and adversity. Through the experience of failure and adversity, we learn how to overcome, the relationship between cause and effect, how to become more resilient, and how to achieve success. In short, we learn how to live and thrive through challenges. Children fundamentally know the difference between a participation trophy and a trophy they worked hard for and earned. False praise does nothing to build confidence or resilience.
Shielding students from failure and high-level expectations does not benefit them. To the contrary, it prevents them from realizing their incredible potential. It deprives them of valuable lessons. Without these lessons, provided in the safety of a classroom, children find themselves rudderless in a tumultuous society.
Shielding students leaves them unprepared for real-world challenges that they will inevitably face. This makes for depressed and anxious adults.
Winston Churchill once stated: “failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We must allow children the opportunity to fail, not because we want them to fail, but because we know they can succeed.
Every successful person has experienced failure. Successful people have learned to be resilient. Successful people own and learn from their failures, and move forward.
As a school, we must prepare students to be successful and joyful in life. Would it be easier to be less strict, less rigorous, and to set the bar lower? Certainly. But that’s not who we are.
We are committed to forming children who are equipped with the skills necessary to flourish. And, it’s working.