I've followed Sir Richard Branson on Twitter for a long time and consider him to be one of the great thought leaders among those I follow. In a tweet just before Christmas, he shared an article about what psychologists believe to be 11 elements that help drive the success of our children. As a parent (and grandparent), I took some time to reflect on this article and feel pretty good that we did what we could to provide a foundation for my own children's success.
Of the 11, there are a couple that truly stand out for me. Number 3 is to set high expectations. Without a doubt, most of have high hopes for our children but do we always set high expectations? It's not enough simply to hope that our kids will succeed; we have to walk the walk and help them do so. Setting high, yet realistic and attainable, expectations is an import part of what we do as parents.
Number 6 is to teach our kids math early on. With two young grandchildren, I am constantly amazed at how well our public education system in Texas is teaching this. It's not just about adding and subtracting but also extends to positive outcomes across other subjects. While reading is called out specifically here, I've seen how having basic math knowledge, even for a five year old, is impacting her ability to analyze and decide on courses of action.
The other one is number 9, valuing effort over avoiding failure. In a testing-centric world, we are more focused on outcomes than we are the process that leads to those outcomes. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." It's time that we acknowledge the value of effort as being equal to, and perhaps more important than, a test score. Test scores are simply a measurement; to use them as a single criteria in determining success of an individual (or school in the case of the proposed A-F campus grading system in Texas) is unfair to students and those who work so diligently to ensure student success.
The Facebook post can be found at http://read.bi/1OuZtC9. If you are not already doing so, take some time to follow Branson and other thought leaders. Like me, you won't always agree with their posts but part of educating ourselves is opening our minds to what others have to say on a myriad of topics. Happy New Year!