When I turned 16, the first car I drove was a 1973 Pontiac Bonneville two door coupe with a 450hp engine that my brother had driven before me. Strangely, when I first started driving it, I was challenged to race it often (I learned later that it had rarely been beaten in a short drag race). I was fearful to race it for a couple of reasons. I knew my Dad would not take kindly to my racing and, well, I was chicken, afraid I could not handle driving fast. Fear in that instance served me well. It kept me out of trouble and alive. Fear is a paradoxical emotion. In one way it keeps us out of trouble and safe. It is a reason our species has survived. Fear is also paralyzing. It keeps us from pushing ourselves when we can. It gives us an excuse not to try. We all fear failure because it is programmed into us in our culture. Losers are, well losers. What team ever lost the Super Bowl and was celebrated? Failure in school is an embarrassment. Many students sit silent in school afraid to try for fear of being seen as a failure. In this context fear is a great detriment to progress.
Schools have to quit teaching that failure is a source of humiliation. Not getting it right is the road to eventual success! There is no shame in trying hard, failing, adjusting the effort and trying again. All great learning experiences involve a little failure. As administrators do we really push our teachers? As teachers do we really push our students? As students do we really push ourselves? We do ourselves a great disservice when we do not push our efforts! We do our students no favors by limiting our expectations! There are times when fear serves us well (please do not drag race!), but when it comes to learning and growing, we must get past our fear of failure! We must learn that it is o.k. to PUSH IT!
Apologies to my brother….I am sure it is no secret….