George’s recent post on empowering students was quite similar to a discussion we had at our Administrative Council Meeting last week surrounding Ted Dintersmith’s book What School Could Be. Chapter five of the book is titled “Letting Go” and Dintersmith discusses how parents can empower their children with a brief reference to Mac Bledsoe’s Parenting with Dignity.
“(Bledsoe) argues that parents need to effect an orderly transfer of decision-making responsibility, from making 100% of your newborn’s decisions to making 0% of your eighteen-year-old’s decisions. Not just unimportant decisions. All decisions. Prepare your child to enter adulthood with the skills, experience, and confidence to make sound decisions.”
This leads me to wonder how we can tackle this empowerment issue along with families. I think of the I Do, We Do, You Do strategy where we gradually release responsibility over to the students and how we can support one another in this process. I know the mindset for both parents and teachers is often the same in that we hate to see our children/students struggle. Borrowing the analogy that George discusses in the previous post, we often jump in and call a timeout to stop the struggle. Unfortunately, this can lead to the creation of a mindset that causes our kids to look to others when they face their next struggle.
As Jessica Lahey notes in The Gift of Failure, “Sometimes courage looks a lot like failure.”
We need to work within our school communities to ensure there is a partnership with families where we encourage one another to embrace the struggle of our students. We need to promote and celebrate these opportunities. Our students learn so much more from these opportunities and also develop greater resilience for future challenges.