Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Don't Fear the F-Word

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Don't Fear the F-Word

Article excerpt

I don't deal well with failure. I was nearly 18 when I first failed anything of importance: my driving test. Here I was, a certified failure, horrified and annoyed in equal measure - especially as all my friends had passed first time.

They say we learn more from our failures than our successes, but I didn't. At the second driving test, I was still so indignant at the injustice that I went the wrong way down a one-way street, nearly took out a white van and was brought back early to the test centre with a D (for danger) marked on my card.

I'm better now at dealing with failure but I've had more practice.

Children, like adults, struggle with failure too, so it doesn't help that this generation of primary school children have more things to fail at than we did. When I was at primary school, the only things we were tested on were times tables, spellings and our ability to hold a balance in gymnastics. When we did take a test, it was a novelty, with no build-up or dissection.

Nowadays, of course, tests are doled out freely, and for many primary children they're a real stumbling block - especially when the results are published. Ask any Year 6 pupil to list their worries and you can almost guarantee that "doing well in my Sats" will be in the top five.

For Year 6 teachers, under pressure to hit targets, it is nigh on impossible not to transfer stress to the children. No matter how nurturing the teacher, it's hard to keep an edge out of your voice when it's the end of April and a good third of the class still believe that 0. …

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