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Educators and parents want their kids to seek challenges and persist through difficulty—but so often, they don't. It's all too familiar: John always takes the easy way out; Angel gives up at the first sign of difficulty; Anna falls apart when she gets a disappointing grade.
Of course, struggling students are especially vulnerable to helplessness and fear of failure. But even high-performing kids fall prey to test anxiety, or avoid that one subject that fills them with dread. Why does this happen? And what can we do about it?
The sad truth is that many students feel very vulnerable in school. For lots of kids, school is above all a place where they are tested and judged—often publicly—and where they feel inadequate. Sometimes, this vulnerability extends to the home, especially if parents place a very high value on perfect performance or are intolerant of failure. It's not what we intend, but it's what they experience.
The good news is that it's within our power to change this, if we know the keys to creating a risk-tolerant home and classroom culture.
To a female: “You’re so smart in math, you should be a teacher.”
To a male: “You’re so smart in math, you should be an engineer.”
These messages are systemic. Generations of women and men have been given these messages (and more like them) by their parents, teachers, coaches, professors, and other adults in their lives.
Walking through the halls of your school and overhearing the chatter of students in the hallways and classrooms, have any of these phrases ever caught your attention?
“What a loser!”
“He’s just a mean person; there’s no changing him.”
“She doesn’t fit in anywhere.”
C. J. Luckey is a Hip-Hop Artist, Motivation Speaker, and Youth Leader. We had a chance to sit down with C.J. and discuss the motivation behind his new E.P. about Growth Mindset entitled C.A.P.S. (Celebrating All Persevering Students). The first single, “The Power of Yet,” can be purchased on iTunes for $0.99. The album will be released on November 1st, and can be preordered now on iTunes for $5.94. It will be available on all music outlets, such as Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, and more, on November 1st.
Pause for a moment and reflect. When you think of your workplace culture, what comes to mind?
Was it an open and relaxed response -- or did you tense up a little? If you became anxious at the thought, know that your experience is not uncommon.