What Does Failure Look Like?

This morning I took my 2 year old for her 2 year check up with the health visitors. Another mum and I waited in a little playroom with our children for the appointments. One of the health visitors came through to call us up and she looked at our children and said cheerfully “Oh they both look lovely. I can’t imagine they’ll fail at anything today.”

I felt a bit startled.

Having filled in the questionnaire of what my child can do in terms of mobility, coordination, communication etc I knew what kinds of questions and activities would be asked and presented: Threading beads onto a shoelace, drawing a line on a piece of paper, stacking wooden blocks on top of each other, talking…

The idea that not being able to do these things, or getting round to things a little slower might be seen as a failure seems strange to me.

I believe we don’t allow our children enough space to experience or test out failure in their discoveries or development. Teachers being paid by results and schools measured on league tables, leave no room for exploration or even room for young people to develop their own sense of drive or ambition. But I don’t believe that children who develop slower, or children who don’t wish to perform in front of 2 strangers can be called failures.

 

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