Do kids really learn from failure? Why conventional wisdom may be wrong →

Strauss quoting Alfie Kohn:

The idea that “kids today” have it too easy is part of a broader conservative worldview that’s been around for a long, long time.  Children are routinely described as coddled and indulged, overprotected and overpraised.  But I’ve been unable to find any data to support this claim, … there’s simply no proof that the phenomenon is widespread, much less that it’s more common today than it was 10, 20, 50, or 100 years ago.

I agree. This tends to be back in my day nonsense. Everyone has it tough in various degrees, and each generation is faced with its own set of challenges.

In fact, studies find that when kids fail, they tend to construct an image of themselves as incompetent and even helpless, which leads to more failure. …if an adult declines to step in and help when kids are frustrated, that doesn’t make them more self-sufficient or self-confident:  It mostly leaves them feeling less supported, less secure about their own worthiness, and more doubtful about the extent to which the parent or teacher really cares about them.

I struggle with this balance of stepping in and butting out. It’s a tough call. I want to support my own children and students, but I don’t want them to feel like they can’t to things for themselves.

Many students whom a teacher brands with zeroes already see themselves as failures.  They’re likely to experience his insistence that they be “held accountable” as yet another dose of humiliation and punishment.  (And it’s the students’ perception, not the teacher’s intention, that determines the result.)  The idea that another goose egg will snap them out of their cycle of failure and put them on the road to success is, to put it gently, naïve.

I personally know that spiral of failure all too well. I don’t think it makes for the best learning environment.

[∞ Permalink](http://pursuingcontext.com/blog/2013/07/do-kids-really-learn-from-failure-why.html)