Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Baby Steps

As I watch my little boy grow, I start to look at the first steps he is going to go through.  Smiling, laughing, listening, understanding, talking, crawling, standing, walking,  running...  He will try all of these things until he masters them.  When he will be learning to crawl, how many times will he try and hold himself up, push himself to hold up?  When he is learning to stand, how many times will he fall?  When he is walking and taking that first step, 3 steps, 10 steps until he is finally walking?  What is it in a little kid that allows them to fail and fail and fail again until they are successful.  There we are encouraging him or her non stop. We are there counting the steps, measuring the distance or hovering around them and clearing a path.  Later on, when kids do poorly there are parents who are quick to criticize the letter grades, tests of essays.
When does this change?  When do kids start hesitating, or even worse stop trying?  When do we stop being a cheerleader? What is that we do as parents or society that breaks the spirit to fail and make failing not an option, or looked at poorly?  Failure is a big part of learning, it is about testing out ideas, ways of doing things and then doing it differently.  There is a reason why there are rough sketches, rough drafts and practices.  There are reasons why there are repetitive drills, exercises and edited comments.
At what age do children fear making a mistake?  where does that fear come from? Is there something that parents do to stymy that desire to overcome mistakes, or is it sometthing that we do that doesn't help them overcome the fear of failure? Is it society's mockery of failure that is at the heart of it?
Every single infant in the world will fail and fail and fail and never give up and so many adults quit or don't try.  Why?