I grew up thinking only lame and unsuccessful people fail. or If you don’t fit into one of those categories- than you must have not tried hard enough.
Every failure was questioned, almost shamed, explanatins were in order and the overall message was- please don’t do that any more.
For years I thought this is the proper way to raise my kids to be strong, hard working achievers.
But for the past few years I have been contemplating the idea that maybe this line of thinking is inconsiderate of the person expected not to fail, a heavy toll on the latter’s health-not to mention it is simply unrealistic to expect anyone to be “100% failure free”.
The other day my youngest came home after school and told me he did not do very well on his math test that day.
Math does not come easy for neither him nor me. it takes a lot of practicing and re-reading the material to understand it properly .
Both he and I know it, and he also knows that the week previous to the test he had plenty of time to study for the test- time he opted to spend on his computer. (shocking- I know).
So- I was disappointed at him, and told him that I was.
He didn’t like that very much, and when I realized his anxiety, I decided to try a different strategy-
I asked him to open his math book, and although the test had already passed, to re-read the material he had trouble with during the test.
At first he didn’t understand the point of this- since the teacher would obviously have no clue that now he understands the material, but I explained to him that I care much more of his sense of success /failure-than the grade he got at a specific exam.
I told him I wanted him to feel that he is not any kind of failure in math- although he flunked that specific test.
He started re-reading the material, and came back to me 30 minutes later- saying that now he gets what the root of his problem was during the test, and he feels confident about his abilities again.
We were both glad that the situation was something we could learn from -and not a bad experience, and of course we discusses the proper learning methods for math tests from now on (mainly going over the material not on a superficial level -glancing at what he wrote during math classes and his homework)-but trying to understand the material in a deeper level that would enable him to solve problems that weren’t given as homework or taught in class.
The next day he came home grinning and told me that his math teacher decided to give the class a second chance on that test and they are doing a second one tomorrow.
This was not expected -and it made his re-reading the material even more profitable-now he didn’t have to invest so much time studying for that second test.
I don’t know his final score yet- but I do know he came home feeling much better this time.
And that is all I care about.
Not the grade -but his sense of overcoming a difficulty he had.
We all have these “tests” in life- actual school or university exams- or simply uneasy situations life throws upon us.
We all fail sometimes. the important thing, I believe, is understanding that there is no point in stressing over a specific failure- when so many more tests -and failures- are still ahead. this is life, and anyone who thinks he can always succeed- is either very young and hopeful, or simply living totally inside a carefully planned comfort zone- from which he never strays -in fear of failing. this is no way to grow, to learn new skills, to develop .
Plus it’s pretty boring.
enjoy- the cooliflower.