To Learn Takes Courage

Posted: 22nd March 2021


Learning takes courage. As human beings, our natural inclination is towards the status quo. What is learning if not a change of mind, of thinking? Any change can be daunting and often unwelcome but it is in this place of discomfort where we (and our children) learn best. So, how do we lead our children towards this brave new frontier? 


I love this quote from a speech delivered by John F Kennedy about America’s quest to reach the Moon: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” How brave! I have used this quote in assemblies and lessons many times because it encapsulates what is required for real learning to take place. We have to encourage our children to choose to do hard things, those things that do not come naturally. This takes real courage and that is why Courage is one of the six learning dispositions upon which our curriculum is based.


That is all well and good, but how is courage taught? My last rhetorical question, I promise. Gently, is the word that first springs to mind. Big leaps are best preceded by small steps. We need to provide children with an environment that allows children to make brave choices and rewards them for doing so. They need to know that initially there is a safety net. That their parents or teacher is there to catch them if they fail. But not to leave it there, to gently guide them back to that ledge and let them have another go, and another, until they succeed and no longer need that safety net. It doesn’t stop there, though. There always, always has to be a bigger leap to take. Learning is NEVER finished.


I am a firm believer in role models. If we don’t display courageous learning, we cannot expect our children to learn it. Talk about your own learning and the more importantly, the process. It is never smooth and linear. Learning is always punctuated with changes of direction, failures and adaptations. Let your children know this!  Often children feel as if the adults in their lives have always known everything and have all the answers. Show them, tell them, that this is not the case. Be clear in highlighting your own ongoing learning and the fact that you too have to be courageous when encountering the unfamiliar.


Lastly, there is not enough adventure in this world. Be courageous! Actively seek out adventure with your children. From camping out in the garden to going on a hike, turn life into an adventure. Your life and that of your child’s will be richer for it. Regardless of your faith, this verse from the Bible, found in the book of Joshua 1 vs 9, rings true: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.


Choose to do the hard things

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