It has often troubled me that student success in school is only ever tangibly measured via test scores and academic improvements – it’s the data that we celebrate (or lament!) often fairly exclusively at a state or national level (though at a school level this can vary). When studies are released that give us pedagogical strategies for greater student success I often wonder how the researchers have defined long term “success”. Academic improvement, university entrance rates, level of education and salary upon completion are widely accepted as measures of “success” but do they give the clearest picture?
My own definition of success in adulthood (after years of feeling I wasn’t successful enough) looks something like this:
- being truly happy
- looking after my body and the environment
- having a peaceful mind
- working in a field / job I am passionate about
- being a supportive friend and family member
- having a sense of hope, resilience and faith in the universe
- being kind to others and an authentic person
- valuing myself and being confident in my abilities
- having vital energy and enthusiasm for life
- speaking my truth without worrying what others think
(of course I vary in my achievement of these from week to week!).
I am finding that more and more kids are coming to us with low self-esteem, anxiety, concerns over making mistakes and scared to try new things. They don’t trust in themselves. My concern is that we validate them in terms of academic and sporting achievements – on what they do rather than for who and how they are in the world. So it’s time we celebrated more vocally, those successes that often get glossed over and never show up in the data: kids having the courage to speak at assembly for the first time, competing in an athletics carnival despite being a slow runner, a child turning their negative self-talk into positive affirmations, someone who no longer cries when their mum drops them off….
These are the successes that inspire me and I know they inspire you too.
You might like to ponder as we begin a new year, fresh with possibility:
What does success look like for you in your life as a whole? Are you achieving these criteria to a level you are content with? What does success look like / feel like for your students? What successes do you want to celebrate more visibly in 2016 and how could you do this?
The words of Wayne Dyer seem powerful here:
Monitor your inclinations to compare yourself to others or to stay within the “system”. A system is designed to get you to behave just like everyone else, as it contrives to make comparisons determine your success or happiness…
We work within a system but WE ARE the system and can determine how that system operates. I would love you to share yours and your students’ “successes” here (in the broadest sense of the term). Here’s to a “successful” 2016!
PS: I have created a new site www.jalayoga.com.au as a platform for my new yoga venture (part of doing work I am passionate about!) you may like to check it out? You can sign up for monthly yoga newsletters that include tips on living a yogic lifestyle, as well as find out about upcoming workshops and retreats to keep you calm and centred.