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Madinat Khalifa Secondary School | Week of 12 March 2017

Success and Failure

  • MK Secondary UN
  • MK Secondary UN
  • MK Secondary

Success and failure – this is an aspect of life that we need to come to terms with and accept as something that is normal and to be expected – but is it something that should be taught?

There is a strong voice emerging in education that says we should be actively planning opportunities for our students to fail. Dr Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, has conducted a significant and well regarded study into Growth Mindset and how to build resilience and ‘grit’ into our daily life. Dr Dweck claims that over praising and telling your child they are ‘smart’, builds a false confidence that will easily shatter when that child inevitably faces a real challenge. Not having the skills to cope with failure, many children will therefore stop attempting tasks where failure is a possibility.

Within the growth mindset philosophy, it is suggested that you should look to praise effort and commitment to the task despite the outcome. It is ok to say, “you worked really hard on that but how could you improve next time?” Children and adults who display a growth mindset, accept failure as a natural and almost welcomed learning experience. If tasks are always completed well, was there any real challenge in the first place?

This week, eight of our Year 10 students submitted an application to represent Compass International School and the Nord Anglia Middle East Region, at the United Nations in New York. This opportunity is only available to Nord Anglia schools through the Global Campus. Each applicant refined their public speaking skills through presentations to the other students, Patricia (our Head Student), Miss Norrie, Mrs Anderson-Rice and myself. Each applicant focused their efforts on addressing the UNICEF Global Goals relating to zero hunger and health and well-being. With only two places available and eight applicants, success and failure was inevitable. After much deliberation and consideration of each student’s ideas and concepts, we agreed on the two successful applicants.  Congratulations to Ananna and Lamis who presented strong ideas in a very considered and confident way. We are more than confident that both students will represent themselves, their parents and the school very well when in New York.

So what happened to the other six students? Not deterred by their perceived ‘failure’, they have agreed to create a working party to support Ananna and Lamis as they begin their preparations for New York. This is a perfect demonstration of how students can learn and develop their grit and determination from both failure and success, we are proud of them all.

Here at Compass International School Doha, I would like our students and teachers to experience success and failure every day. This has to be nurtured and planned for, but I truly feel that if we only ever allow our students to taste success, we are not building the required emotional resilience to accept failure as a part of normal adult life.  I welcome your thoughts on this, as well as the Growth Mindset philosophy.

Have a lovely weekend.

 

Paul McConnell
Head of Secondary