I put off writing this letter until the Very. Last. Minute.
Procrastination is not really my thing; I forget way too much if I don’t take care of things in a timely manner. But, I was really stumped about what to write.
It’s August, should I have written about the craziness of “Back to school” and what it means for parents attending their first ‘Kiss-n-cry’ day of kindergarten or the happily waving parents of the know-it-alls heading off to high school?
I could have focused on our schools and teachers – and opened a can of worms. Weaknesses seen by many, strengths seen by few. Ask me sometime what I really think about that, I would be happy to discuss.
Maybe I should have gone big and tackled the education system as a whole. Except I know enough to know that I don’t know enough when it comes to America’s educational system to argue my points. I only have opinions based upon my experiences as student, parent, volunteer, and substitute. A lot of perspectives, but still not the historical or political knowledge to hold my own.
All my procrastination and waffling finally brought me to this.
Failing is painful which makes it a pretty good motivator. All that stuff about “natural consequences” turns out to be pretty spot on. This year, I have a ninth grader and a fifth grader. They are smart, kind, work hard when motivated, and they fail at a lot of things they try to do. I wouldn’t call my kids failures, not at everything. Let’s just say that failure on a daily basis isn’t unheard of.
I’m actually pretty proud of their failures (successes too). Failing teaches them some obvious things like the direct correlation between success and responsibility and some less obvious things as well. When you are on a team, you win and lose together. When you do a group project, choose wisely, or you may end up carrying a heavy load.
There are different degrees of failure, and as a parent, I can sometimes control the amount of pain involved. When I have chosen to allow something uncomfortable to happen to my kids (which happens more regularly as they get older), it’s not easy. To be honest, many times the pain I’m trying to ease by rescuing them is mine. I want to save them, and it feels wrong to let them fail. Rescuing them is not my job. Teaching them to fail gracefully, learn from their failures, pick themselves up and try again is my job. Failure is an excellent teacher.
Beyond the fail
There is a downside to failure. When you stop trying, because you are afraid to fail, you have deprived yourself of the ability to grow. It’s tragic. Beyond the fail are success and growth. With encouragement, love, patience, and time people move forward toward success. No one needs to be reminded of their failures; they are like steps in a staircase, each one just getting you closer to a goal.
This month our contributors wrote about learning, education, change, and growth.
Our student writer brought back a story from summer camp. She learned a lot in just one week. We have a student photographer as well; she’s learning that there are a lot of photo fails for every perfect picture.
Did you know we have over 100 schools in the Anchorage School District with a wide range of educational offerings? Learn a little bit about how to navigate the district’s educational options in Jamin Goecker’s article this month.
Finding a musical instrument that you can live with can be overwhelming. With the school year upon us, sixth graders will be searching for just the right thing for band or orchestra. Get help making the tough decision in Cara Walsh Dorman’s music column.
Everyone is on their toes about bears right now – not without reason. Frank Baker tells us a bear story this month in his Mountain Echoes column.
We all have ideas of what should be taught in school. HistoricLee by Lee Jordan addresses something he wishes was on that list. Once again, Jon Van Zyle has created beautiful custom artwork to accompany Lee’s column.
Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Donn Liston tells us more about the changes in his life since his wife, Cat, was diagnosed and started cancer treatment. Donn and Cat’s relationship has changed, each having to learn a different role. Thank you, Donn, for continuing to share your and Cat’s personal story.
Do you want to learn something new? Check out the library. Nancy Clark gives some handy-dandy tips for finding information about just about anything.
Always on the lookout for something good, Frank Baker strikes again. Slinging compliments and kudos to see what would happen, we all get to read the results.
It’s already August, but before bike season comes to a close, check out some great rides in this month’s cycling article by Emma Haddix.
Elizabeth Pearch wants to know if you’re stuck in her Good Things column this month. Focusing on the idea of a fixed vs. growth mindset, she has a lot of valuable advice.
Once upon a time, there was a little Montessori school. Donn Liston tells us just what happened to it in The unfortunate demise of Tom Thumb Montessori Schools.
Magan James, Executive Director of the Forget Me Not Coalition wants employers to learn more about retaining service members and veterans they hire. The more tools employers have at their disposal, the more successful the workplace.
More learning?!? Sara Kennedy wants to remind us that there are steps to making real change. It’s not something that happens overnight.
As always, thank you for reading. I am always happy to hear from you,
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.