Failing Forward, Positive Growth Mindsets
By David Goulbourn
Headmaster at Pownall Hall School.
For many children the concept of ‘What if?’ has negative connotations. What if I do this and this goes wrong, or what if I try that and that goes wrong? As a result, many have a mindset cluttered by the fear of ‘failure’.
Our job is to ensure that the ‘What if?’ mindset of the children is one of positivity, a growth mindset that ensures they are risk takers who have no fear of the consequences of failure. We must ensure that we encourage children to be positive in their thought processes, to embrace their mistakes and for the ‘What if?’ to become a source of encouragement, of challenge, and of a route to making everything possible. ‘What if I do that and it works! What if I achieve that, what is next?’
Resilience is built within the context of the situation. Resilience should not be a manufactured idea that is ‘taught’ but rather it is a behaviour that is mirrored by the children, embedded by the examples that they see around them from the positive role models in their lives.
We are within a test driven education system. It is crucial that the children do not see that as an end or as something that defines them. An A-star student (or a Point 9 student as it is now) does not necessarily make an A-star person.
The grades that we achieve are not necessarily correlated to the person that we are, who we are. Our whole child preparatory system must ensure that the children know and understand that; what we ‘get’ does not define who we are.
We must ensure that the children embrace the mistakes they make and ‘fail forward’.
Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”