It’s so hard when children start to feel like failures during the process of learning in life and begin to disengage. Children, like adults, feel pressure to succeed and be “perfect”. When a child is disengaged from learning, all it means is that they are linking their ‘perceived’ abilities in learning to their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.
Children can feel bad about themselves when they can’t get things right the first time, or if they make mistakes. This is a type of 'perfectionistic' thinking “if I don’t get it right then I’m not good enough”. We want to teach children that success and failure are Ying and Yang, and that success comes through failure and making mistakes. Life is not about the result at the end, but what we learn during the journey along the way.
Most kids these days are afraid to fail. They see failure in learning as shameful. We often see kids at the clinic who are resistant to parent support and begin to hate the process of learning, as they see receiving help as a failure within themselves, and something wrong with the way their brains work. As parents and teachers, we naturally want our kids to succeed. But what if we recognised failure as a good and a crucial step on the path to learning? Failure is a necessary component of success (NOT its opposite). Failure is the Yang to the Ying of success. In fact, our brain grows and develops in important ways whenever failure occurs. When we don’t know something and we fail, our brain shoots off new neurotransmitters and creates new pathways in our brain. This makes our brain grow and become more efficient. When kids understand this concept, amazing things can happen for them (and for us). Think about your biggest mistakes…. I bet they probably taught you more courage, strength and wisdom than any success could have.
The Learning Pit is an analogy to help students look at their learning as an opportunity for them to keep growing. The Learning Pit analogy helps students understand that they can take control over their own learning, even when it is hard and challenging. The learning pit metaphor is a great way to introduce the concept of growth through challenges to children.
A great way to look at the Learning Pit analogy with real life examples is to find examples of famous people or sports stars they look up to who have used their mistakes and failures as motivators for success and discuss it with them. Even use your own examples, a parent is a child’s biggest role model.