In just a couple of days I have been surprised by the number of times I have seen a recent Globe and Mail article get shared in my Twitter stream. “Why kids need to fail in order to succeed in school” is somewhat lengthy (5 pages), but I made a point of reading it. I also shared someone else’s tweet regarding it. I could have easily not read past the title thinking it may be another article blaming parenting as the source of trouble. I am not sure that the title aligns all that well to the article or the book mentioned. At the time I posted this, there were 374 comments on the article.
It left me thinking and with a few questions nonetheless. Do we need to reflect a bit more and take time to understand why things are the way they are, and have become? What are the conditions we need to create in order to shift to more acceptance of failure and allow time for appropriate amounts of adversity, and at the right time? Changes in parenting may be difficult without changes and support in schools, workplaces, and in society. How do we support time for parenting and adjust the messages and pressures to succeed that directly affect parenting? Who will do this?
I couldn’t help think of Carl Honoré’s book, Under Pressure: Rescuing childhood from the culture of hyper-parenting. There are many good points in the conclusion in his book which would be a great supplementary read to this article, and perhaps the book metioned as well. He recognizes that there is no single formula for child rearing, as well as that there are some basic principles that hold true across class and culture. But he goes on to say, “Of course, parenting is just part of the equation. Beyond the family, we need to rethink the rules that govern everything that touches children’s lives—school, advertising, toys, sports, technology, traffic”. (p. 261). He also states, “What all of this adds up to is finding a new definition of childhood”.
So is the conversation really about “failure” and “succeeding” and “grit”, or about the conditions of childhood? All of the above? How do we come together collectively in this conversation to support parenting and childhood?