Don’t hide mistakes but use them as an opportunity for learning…
On the first day of the spring term I spoke to the girls about the Roman god Janus. I showed a typical image of a statue depicting him and asked the girls what they thought he might have been the god of.
There were several excellent answers and one in particular that piqued my interest. A Year 6 girl suggested that he depicted looking back into the past and also forwards into the future. This is the Wikipedia entry: In ancient Roman religion and myth Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.
This was an incredibly insightful comment and one that got right to the hub of what I wanted to talk about. We can look back over the past year and highlight our successes and failures, but there is nothing that can now be done to change them. All of us need to look forward to new beginnings and to opening new doorways in our learning. This applies us as adults as much as those learning their first phonics in the classroom.
It does not mean that the past is of no use. Our successes and failures are there to help us learn for the future and often getting something wrong or struggling can be the best way of improving. This is something the children find very difficult, they want to please and believe that they must succeed in order to do so. By consistently challenging this conviction we are developing girls who can learn from their mistakes and pick themselves up from disappointment. It is not a smooth road but I did see many of the assembled children nodding and agreeing with me when I made this assertion.
It is important that parents are also consistent with this message. Often we want to offer ourselves up as paragons of parenting and will hide our own mistakes. Perhaps it would be better if we owned these slipups and could discuss them as an opportunity for learning with our children. That may be an unusual and difficult resolution but it is one that I have made.