Monday, February 9, 2015

How to fail in a Christian school

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:19-20

I have a confession. When I was young, I couldn't do the triple jump. No matter how hard I tried, I could not force my mind to correctly direct my body through the succession of hop, skip and jump needed. My attempts were a sharp contrast to several classmates around me that, over several years of field day preparation, grew in their skill and precision and started to look like soaring eagles launching into flight. Convinced that I just couldn't, I simply stopped believing that I ever could it. My mindset got the better of me.

In the educational and professional reading I do there has been a lot of talk lately about how incredibly significant one’s mindset toward learning and failure is to the progression of learning and reaching one’s potential. A mindset might easily be understood to be the combination of attitude and actions, each affecting each other.

A fixed mindset presumes that you are or are not something (smart, resourceful, musical, athletic, etc) and there is little one can do to change that. You have it or you don’t and you can’t change much about it. It discourages people from reaching or stretching beyond where they are already at.

A growth mindset suggests that although people are very different from one another, everyone can grow as they try, fail, repeat, stretch, grow, and learn. Some of the most import and most significant learning happens not with what you first get it right, but rather where you initially struggle and wrestle with it until you have it. Studies show that many people define key learning moments in life as being connected with things that were failures before they were a success. The key is to not give up before that learning path is complete.

This is certainly consistent with a Christian view of education. We don’t teach children believing they will instantly find success in all things. God calls each student, teacher, and parent to realize that failure and weakness are opportunities, not endings. In our failures and weakness, we meet opportunities to see God’s grace make us stronger as he works in and through us. Take heart, don’t give up. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S.Lewis 


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