The Importance of Persistence

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Currently reading deeply into chapter three of How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.   “How to Think” is the name of this section.  It begins with a story of Sebastian Garcia, a young chess player at IS 318, a low-income public middle school  in Brooklyn.  One of the many messages made by Sebastian’s story is that error analysis, discussion and reflection lead to improved outcomes.

Many articles related to failure  have streamed past my eyes of late.  Of course, embracing failure is a strength; a character-building exercise for the warrior.  As an educator,  I’m not quite sure failure is the key to teaching and learning.  Vital yes, but there is something more to it.

I am thinking of many experiences:

  • A few years ago I shared the 10,000 Hours Rule with my son (above) who was deeply interested in music.  Something clicked and he immersed himself even deeper, spending hours and hours practicing multiple instruments and observing, listening and reading. He went from being someone who wished   to someone who could (and now he does).  Concentrated effort matters; practice makes “perfect”.
  • My dopey labra-pony-doodle , Jim, is unschooled in obedience training.  I am taking him on walks with a leash. Each time I go I learn something.  Each time he goes he learns something.  I have bought 4 different collars and leads.  The pinch collar is the one that has helped us both walk the streets without my arm being pulled out of socket while being dragged down across the pavement.  He is now gaining self-control without being pinched. 
  • I am on my sixth knitting project. Each one taught me about the changes I needed to make.  I am increasingly pleased by the outcome.

It isn’t just failure, but having the courage to keep at it, despite failure.  

Resiliency (and mastery) comes from persistence.  It takes time.  Reflection.  Practice.  Failure is part of that.  

We just need to demystify failure and make mastery and learning the  priority.  Warriors await.  

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