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☰ The Real Key to Success

Head's Blog

The Real Key to Success

Posted on January 29 2019

When I was at school I never really had a definitive nickname, most friends (and quite a few teachers come to think of it) used to refer to me as Tucker. Not the most original name, or one that has been used recently, until this month when I met up with some old school friends the other week. It wasn’t a school reunion as such, but through a friend of a friend, I was invited to an event where a series of old school colleagues attended. It was lovely to catch up with a few familiar faces; Hughsey, Seb, Fisher, and Bingo (much better nickname as when at school he always walked around with his eyes down!).

We inevitably got talking about how much we had all changed, who was doing what and whether the school standout student (who shall remain nameless) had in fact been the one person most likely to succeed. Was he climbing the corporate ladder or developed his own company? No, in fact, he hadn’t. Apparently, he had struggled quite a bit in his university days and not been able to cope with the increasing expectation and demands placed upon him by his parents or teachers. Now, this is a small personal example, but we often hear of many other similar tales where people struggle with the trials and tribulations of life.

Effectively, although the brightest individual I have ever come across, this star student wasn’t resilient enough to succeed with his ambitions. For whatever reason, he had not been able to cope with what life had in store for him. Resilience is a fundamental requirement for human progress and success. The ability to bounce back from adversity, to learn from mistakes and to continue to drive ahead with a goal or vision is something that many people lack. Anxiety, stress and mental well-being are increasingly becoming an important part of education – rightfully so. Resilience is something to bestow upon our younger generation, but where do we start? How do we do it?

It starts at a very young age. Fall off your bike? You shed a few tears but climb back on. Argue with your friends? You sort the issue out or make new ones. Fail an exam? Hopefully, you learn from your mistakes and improve next time. Don’t improve? Well, maybe that subject or school isn’t for you. However, not all of these experiences occur enough with young people. Often, a fear of upsetting someone’s self-esteem or appearing to be too critical, coupled with the desire to wrap children in metaphorical cotton wool to prevent them from needing to bounce back in the first place, has produced a high proportion of young people who lack resilience because they’ve never learned the value of failure – because they’ve never been allowed to fail.

At Forest Park resilience is intimately connected to failure – and for the former to be present, the latter must be allowed and even encouraged. We actively allow resilience to flourish in so many ways and also embed opportunities for our pupils to learn from it at every age and opportunity. Not all resilience is learned through experience, resilience must also be taught and to do that, one must be allowed (encouraged, even) to take risks.

Our pupils are encouraged to take risks, to push boundaries and to experiment with failure. Progress and success come from taking risks. In fact, without risk takers, our world would be a far less colourful and exciting place – a world without whom comfortable satisfaction with the status quo is preferable to challenging ourselves to progress, improve and change. So the next time your child comes home from school, ask them about what risks they have taken at Forest Park and what they learned from it?

Nick Tucker

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