I shouldn’t read the comments on Huffington Post articles (or almost any other opinion “newspaper” for that matter). But I’m addicted to it, so I doubt I’ll stop.
Today we have Alfie Kohn‘s article on HuffPo titled “What Do Kids Really Learn from Failure?” is provocative. His ideas are. If you aren’t familiar with Kohn I’ll give a summary. He believes that we should get rid of imposed consequences, rewards and punishments. He dislikes the idea of grades, especially when what is being graded is subjective.
I agree with Kohn’s ideas. I tried reading a book of his, but it’s kind of dry, psychology stuff so I didn’t do very well. I will try again because he has ideas worth learning about.
If he had his way he’d revamp the entire school system. OH YES PLEASE. It is broken.
So there was a comment from a user who said he/she wanted his children to fail. because this commenter didn’t fail in school, they didn’t learn how to survive in the world. I, too, found school very easy and I never learned to study. I did learn about the world from my parents. My dad ran his own business, my mom did the basic accounting.
I think failure is the wrong word here. We shouldn’t want our children to fail. Failure generally teaches children they are dumb and not to bother trying.
The word we want is “challenge”. We should want our children to be challenged. One big problem with school is that it’s not individualized. One child who can read at a very high level is put in the same class with a child who struggles with basics, because they are the same age. Some teachers are better than others at changing things up to challenge children. In second grade my daughter picked two bonus words to learn to spell because the basics were too easy.
When we are challenged at just the right level, we get excited about the work. And occasionally we get frustrated. And if parents and teachers do their job correctly, a challenged child who reaches an obstacle or problem, we can teach them how to problem solve.
Do you challenge your children? Do you challenge yourself?