FMM 9/21/12 Success


“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

Bill Cosby 

How do we ensure that the next generation will succeed? What are the tools they need, and how do we define success? Last weekend I listened to a program on NPR that spoke about the factors which hamper children from being successful in life. They mentioned that assessment tests are not necessarily good predictors of how well the young people will do later, and it addressed what they called the ‘non-cognitive skills’. These are the skills we need to navigate life. How do we interact with others; how do we cope with adversity, stress, failure? Are we able to control our temper, and handle conflict? As parents, teachers and leaders, are we giving the next generation the skills they need to succeed in life?

Since entering the world of teaching, I have been trying to teach basic math skills to adults. When they learn they will not be able to use a calculator they are lost. Many of the students also have poor non-cognitive skills, and even if they seem to have the academic ability they struggle. The NPR program also addressed the role of stress and adverse conditions in childhood on the development of the brain, on the ability of the children to learn. So children who grow up in poverty, with violence or insecurity are going to have a hard time learning in school, not to mention they grow up twice as likely to develop chronic illnesses.

But the good news is, there are programs which can help young people overcome these disadvantages. Coaching, mentoring, group sessions to work on the non-cognitive skills not only help the students cope with life, they also improve their academic scores. I have to be honest here: not only did this hit me as I look at my particular job; it makes me think about Jamaica and the problem of violence in the society.

How can we make a difference in the lives of children brought up in poverty, violence and insecurity? Can we get involved in a project to provide coaching and mentoring, showing young people that they can succeed? Sometimes all it takes is for someone to tell them they can! Belief in one’s ability to succeed may be the key to the future. What effect could this have on the future of Jamaica?

But we don’t have to look that far. How have we raised our own children? They may not have been exposed to poverty and violence, but have we given them the tools to succeed in life? How do they cope with adversity, with failure, with conflict? Have they learned to delay gratification, to be patient enough to wait for results? As we try to compensate for the things we think we missed out on in our childhood, have they come to expect gifts and rewards without working for them? How does this prepare them for life?

There are many lessons in life that are not taught in the classroom. We are all teachers, and we need to think of those important messages we can deliver, whether verbally or by example. We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to give them the tools to succeed, and hopefully to make the world a better place.

One Love Family!

Have a great Friday, and a great weekend.

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