Life is a risk. Never before has our awareness of this been higher. One can’t help but feel bombarded by the statistics and the temptation to lock yourself indoors and never go out is huge. Even shopping has become an adrenaline-filled extreme sport!
In the run up to the full reopening of schools on the 8th of March this year, we like most other schools worked tirelessly to assess all the risks and put in place measures to protect our children and staff. We recognised that bringing all of our children back into school was a risky thing to do during a pandemic but firmly believed the benefits far outweighed the consequences. The past few days have already proven this to be true. This whole process got me thinking about the concept of risk-taking.
As you may or may not know, one of our learning dispositions is Risk-taking and is characterised by Snappy the Crocodile. When we decided on these dispositions, our staff recognised the importance of teaching our children how to manage risk. As a school we encourage risk-taking because we believe that learning best takes place when children step out of their comfort zones. They should be comfortable with taking risks and learning from the inevitable failures that may result. This process is obviously guided by our skilled staff, teaching the children to assess risk and gently guiding them through the process. This happens daily in our classrooms, on the playground and sports fields. It can be a painful process for those of us who have to watch as children potentially fail. The natural instinct is to intervene before they fail and often we have to stop ourselves from doing this, to ensure that the learning takes place.
We don’t take a cavalier approach to risk and place children in harm’s way. We carefully select opportunities for them to safely take risks designed to enhance their learning. This is why we do things like:
- Ensure that all of our children perform on stage
- Participate in a wide range of sports
- Go on residential trips locally and abroad
- Do science experiments
- Write exams
- Participate in Forest Schools
- Set challenging tasks in lessons
- Encourage them to try a variety of foods in the Dining Hall
- Offer a broad curriculum
In all of these and many more examples we include an element of carefully selected risk to ensure learning.
This concept applies equally to parents. I know how much you love your children and how important it is to you that they succeed. The temptation to remove all the barriers your children may encounter, is a very real one. My advice is: DON’T! Allow them to risk failure and experience the joy over overcoming and learning from mistakes. Similarly, don’t panic when your child comes home and has not produced an immaculate piece of work or full marks in a test. If they aren’t selected for a sports team or main role in a show, allow them to learn from these potentially painful experiences, always stressing the opportunity to learn and move on.
Every breath we take holds potential peril. Particularly in the ‘new normal’. But breathing means living and life is truly wonderful and worth every risky breath.Categories: School Blogs Uncategorised