Here at Lucky Gecko, we’re constantly looking for ways of reimagining education. The book “Educating Ruby” by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas is a powerful read for those of us who feel that the school system is no longer preparing students for the realities of the world they will live in. In particular, their identification of what they term the “7 c’s” resonated with us.
They propose that we should learn to foster and value the following attributes in our students in order to properly educate and prepare them for the future:
confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftmanship
Of course, parents are the most important educators in a child’s life, so we’ve created a series of posts to help you find ways in which you can help your child to blossom in these key areas.
First up, it’s… confidence
One of our biggest frustrations about the current school system is that mistakes are seen as a bad thing – getting something wrong, in many cases, is the “worst” thing that can happen in a classroom situation. Children are taught to aim for perfection at all costs.
In the adult world, however, mistakes are the pathway to progress. If children are not prepared to make mistakes, if they are frightened of making them, how can we expect to create adults who are able to push the boundaries of our understanding? We need people to take risks, explore new ideas and have confidence in their own ability to learn if they go wrong.
Confidence in our own abilities requires self-belief and a determined outlook. Confident people believe that they can get better at things if they work at them. This then leads to a more positive attitude and a willingness to “have a go” at things. It also encourages students away from the idea that some people are just naturally “better” at certain things, and replaces this idea with an appreciation of the power of hard work. The goal is, surely, for us all to acknowledge our own unique skillset and to see it as a “work in progress”. We can always improve – we just have to try.
As a parent, there are many ways in which you can encourage your child to have this outlook. The attitude you instil in them at home will have a huge influence on how they approach the challenges at school and in the wider world.
Allow your children to see you struggle
As in all things, they will learn more from watching what you do than listening to what you say. How you react to a problem, or a mistake, will be crucial in shaping their attitude. Try to demonstrate that making mistakes is a normal part of living and that it is a useful way to learn and improve. We all want to be our child’s superhero, but there’s a huge value in them seeing you wrestling with a problem and coming out the other side.
Avoid generalised praise
Claxton and Lucas point out that generalised praise (such as “Good work, Sarah”) or praise which suggests an innate ability (“You’re a natural!”) is less valuable than comments which highlight the journey a child has taken. If you can make your praise more specific (“I’m so impressed by how hard you worked on that painting and the time you took choosing the colours.”) it will help your child to see that putting in extra effort is worthwhile. If they think that they just have some magic ability in something, they will either become complacent and not improve, or not understand how they can improve.
Provide a “safe space”
An overused term, but an important concept. Your child needs to know that they are allowed to make mistakes and that you will help them to learn from them. If they fear punishment or disapproval, they will be reluctant to try new or challenging things and this will bleed into all aspects of their life.
Make them feel useful
Allow your child to take control of tasks, give them responsibility for certain things around the home, and help them to master the art of planning. If they get used to achieving small goals at home, this will build their self-belief and they will carry the same attitude into school. Setting achievable targets for them is crucial, and helping them work out their own solutions to problems (rather than simply telling them what they should do) will help to give them the confidence they need.
In the next post we’ll look at curiosity – a trait which we feel is so important that we named a box after it!
Have a wonderful week folks!
If you’d like to explore these ideas further, we highly recommend you find a copy of Educating Ruby or visit their website www.educatingruby.org . The book is enjoyable, informative and uplifting and we think it would be of benefit to every parent and teacher.