I have just listened to a 'Squiggly Careers' podcast/interactive presentation in which they were talking about how to approach a task/project from scratch AKA Blank Page Syndrome. They were asking people how this situation made them feel and they got a very wide range of answers varying from
Love it! Excited!!
It made me think of the classroom.
Everyday and multiple times a day at that, children are faced with this scenario and feel many emotional reactions to it in the same way. The presentation by Squiggly Careers highlighted to me that this situation is one that we will come back to throughout our lives so it would be helpful to learn how to navigate it.
My go to is always a Mindmap to dump down my first thoughts - it's a technique I use all the time in the classroom so that children see this modelled continually. My books also reflect the idea of the mindmap and the idea of thoughts (just look at the covers of all my books to see this theme in action).
When you are in charge of several little people learning, it is a real challenge to manage the different way in which children will approach this situation. We need them to develop their own resiliency in response to it, particularly if they start to feel worried.
A big part of the jigsaw is Mindset. If you are able to see the excitement of a challenge rather than be scared by it, that is half the battle. This is not a quick fix. If we take away the expectation of something needing to be perfect and the idea that mistakes are OK and part of the learning process then we start to chip away at the fear because this is largely where the fear gets it's power. We are fearful that what we produce will be rubbish and that will be a judgement of us.
BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE.
When creating something new, from scratch, probably that you have never done before, you somehow need to find the courage just to get started. Knowing that we are allowed to get it wrong (as long as we are willing to learn from what went wrong) is important and expected. You need to create an environment that allows people (and in this case children) to feel that make mistakes is important.
That is the culture you are wanting to build around children.
Is that the message being wafted around your children? Sometimes it should be explicit, sometimes it's the undercurrent. Whatever it is, it should be there.
One of the things that was talked about in the presentation I was listening to was an acceptance that the first thing we produce is probably going to be rubbish. I don't think children always receive that message. Often, the expectation is (or at least appears to be) 'what we want from you is perfection.'
It is really worth considering how/when children are receiving this message. It is important to note that this is most often done inadvertently. Of course there are times when we want the outcome to be a 'best copy' (after we have worked on it) but this shouldn't be all the time and sometimes we just need to say that.
So, this post is about illustrating another reason why setting up a culture that explicitly values mistakes as part of the learning journey is so necessary when driving our children towards a growth mindset and actually would go a long way towards nurturing our own.