Everyone wants children to succeed-parents and teachers alike. No one likes to see children struggle academically, or socially in a world that is competitive such as the one we live in today, but, what if some struggles contributed to a child’s character building, or the learning process?
I recently heard a story about a parent whose child attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. The student had recently graduated from Bates, and was just beginning their journey into the work world. They applied for jobs, and by chance got an interview with an organization that they had applied to. After having their first interview, the newly graduated student was called for a second interview, which was wonderful. Imagine the surprise though, of the interviewing organization, when the interviewee brought their parent along with them to negotiate the salary at that second interview!
There is something to be said about giving students enough support so that they are successful, yet not giving so much that they are debilatated. Where do we draw the line? Will students become resilient if they face some obstacles, fail some tasks, or aren’t selected for every team or group they try out for? Or, will students learn to feel that they are entitled, to be successful at every task they try, for every job they apply for, and that they get what they want in every situation, because as a society, we have been so intent on making sure that they don’t fail, that they never have the opportunity to learn?
You’re probably thinking right now that I have a very traditional or archaic view of how children need to be supported, however, I assure you that I am very strong supporter of student learning, nurturing children, and providing students with success. What I do not support though, is that our children never have an opportunity to fail, therefore creating a culture of adults that feel they are, for instance, entitled to every job they apply for, or that no rules apply to them.
How do we help children learn and still support them? Easy. Students need to be provided a blend of opportunties where they can experience success, but also should have a variety of experiences where they may not be in first place, or win a prize, or have a task come out perfectly. And as adults, we can not rush into those situations and fix it so that the children are always successful. Our job is to stand back, carefully watch our youngsters, and provide them with support when they do fail or don’t get their way so that they know and learn how to cope with those situations.
Knowing this, or thinking about this, I would ask: Will you help develop a culture of resiliency, or will you create one of entitlement?