From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

People who become exceptional at something, do so NOT because they believe they are exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they are obsessed with improvement. People that become great at something become great, because they understand that they are not already great.

Mark Manson

In this week’s Middle School Assembly, Ms Brett, Housemaster of Wynn Jones House, spoke with the boys and young men in Years 7, 8 and 9 about the value of a growth mindset and the importance of having a clear understanding of the power of failure. Her remarks continue a series on academic growth following the release of Semester 1 Reports for Years 8 and 9, as we attempt to contextualise and unpack your sons’ results, reinforce the feedback they have been offered by their teachers, and explain the importance of reflecting on and learning from their experience. Year 7 will receive their Semester 1 Report in the next week, so Ms Brett’s remarks were pre-emptive.

She provided some excellent examples, including James Dyson’s repeated failures as he attempted to develop his bagless vacuum, the foundation of his $15 billion business empire, Beyonce’s 1993 loss on an American Talent Show, and the Steve Jobs story; creating Apple with Steve Wozniak, being sacked by the Board of the company he built, and returning as its CEO, all the while acknowledging that many people see failure as having negative connotations and that the experience of failing can be very confronting.

Ms Brett explained that students who study Theory of Knowledge in Year 11 and 12 learn that our perceptions are heavily influenced by our emotional bias and form the basis of the narratives we use to interpret our experiences, and which may end up obscuring the truth. She challenged your sons with the rhetorical question: what if failure was an essential experience in the process of improvement, and encouraged them to imagine how they could continue to grow if they viewed their Semester I Reports as an opportunity to check their learning progress, get feedback and re-calibrate by setting realistic and achievable goals.

It was a powerful message, well delivered. I hope your son came home and reported what had been shared. If not, perhaps you can chat with him over dinner tonight.

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master –  Summer Hill


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