I worry sometimes about grown-ups and our collective level of distraction from principle when it comes to making smart decisions on behalf of our kids. In schools and also across the community, we’re seduced by a well articulated notion that “sounds like a nice idea” far too often. Many of these ideas, when removed from their linguistic window dressing, are contrary to what we know to be true.
By example, take the story that emerged this week of young cricketers no longer being able to make a fable “duck” in junior cricket matches. The hypothesis is that the sadness associated with failure is driving kids from the sport and we need our kids happy while they play the game. It “sounds like a nice idea”.
But what do we know to be true beneath this fundamental shift in the way that sport is taught and played?:
- that we have a significant issue in Australian students when it comes to resilience?
- that to be resilient you need to thrive despite risk or hardship.
- that sporting and competitive environments are perfect for exposing young people to these risks in a parentally supported way.
So, the question is, why would we deny our kids that the chance to benefit fully from that experience? When things are competitive, like on the sporting field, let’s allow them to learn wonderful qualities like resilience, sportsmanship (both when they win and lose) and even older more noble qualities like bravery and gallantry.
When things are collaborative, like in your classroom, reject competitive levers that equally “sound like a nice idea” and these include behavioural points and ranking systems that do little more than confirm negative labels in the long-term.
It’s about drawing a line of belief between competitive and collaborative systems. There are benefits of both sides. And when we try to meld the two into one confusing mish-mash of behaviours, we do our kids no favours at all.
When playing cricket we all make ducks, we feel lonely and a bit glum. We learn to shake it off, accept the sharp feedback and to pad up again for another crack at it next week.
When in class, we should be making ducks from paper mache, from a written procedure, using problem solving skills, artistic flair and via cooperating with friends.
If we think about it this way, ducks are quite wonderful!
FREE WEBINAR TO KICK OFF 2018 – “THE RESPECTFUL SCHOOL”
What the decline points to is that Respect has become more aspiration than reality … and that’s where this webinar steps in!
In this webinar, we’ll unpack for you and your school:
- how to define Respect in terms we can all understand.
- how to get started with Respectful behaviours.
- why focusing on fostering, rather than commanding, Respect is the way to go.
- how to measure your impact when it comes to Respect.
- how other important values can be enacted using a simple behavioural methodology.
- the difference between an authoritarian and authoritative approach and how they impact Respectful experiences.