What would you do…

if you knew you couldn’t fail?

This is one of those quotes you see everywhere; on tee shirts, bumper stickers, blogs *grin*, but have you ever really thought about what it means?

What it means to me is this. If you don’t fear failure you are a lot more likely to try something. If you try something, you learn something. It doesn’t matter if your cheer class doesn’t take off; you have learned you are good with kids and that the market is weak for cheer in the homeschooling market. Next time you’ll open it to public schoolers. It doesn’t matter if you are struggling and unable to keep up with the Brit Lit schedule because you can cut back and still learn and read some great books. It’s easier to take that chance when there is no F on your permanent record hanging over your head.

IMO not failing is not something that is emphasized in public schools. I don’t mean not failing your classes, that is an ever present threat, I mean not failing at all. I mean trying just to see if you can. Giving it a go without fear of not making it. Taking the leap off the cliff of *what if?*.  Instead I see school as pushing the *sensible* option. Take the classes you are best at. Only take AP if you are sure your grades will be up to snuff. Pick a major with job potential. Don’t stray from the traditional academic path. I know *I* learned that lesson well when I was in school. The goal was to get good grades, good SATs and go to college. Those plans fell apart and to this day I have never had the courage to pick back up where I left off. Why not? What if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I pay all that money and can’t find a job? In short…what if I fail?

My kids have no such qualms. I think a lot of it comes from being young and invincible, but I think at least some of it comes from homeschooling. Frankly, I never saw this confidence in K when she was in school. As part of our yearbook I asked each of them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their answers were revealing.

K wants to teach history in her own school. She has definite plans for how this school will be too. Full of resources, teachers as guides, student run. She wants me to help, apparently I will be admin 🙂 I LOVE that she has this dream. I also love that she is absolutely sure that it will happen. We’ve actually talked at length about how such a school could be set up as a homeschool enrichment center or a non approved private school, how many rooms one would need, what we might have for extra-curriculars. She knows she may need a degree, and so will get it, but college would be a means to an end for her, not just *what you do*.

B wants to work for Mike Holmes. I can see it too, this kid has used tools since he was 3 and is pretty darn good with a drill. The fact that Mike is in Canada and B is only 9 doesn’t phase him in the least. He’d go up there now and do some painting for the guy if he could.

And really, why can’t he? Why can’t K teach history? Of course we aren’t going to move to Canada (and I doubt their labor laws would allow B to work for Mike Holmes anyway 🙂 ), nor can we open a school right at the moment, but there are ways I can help my kids reach their goals sooner rather then later. And I should.

I recently read an article called Big Hairy Audacious Goals by Julie Bogart on Home Education Magazine. This really struck a chord with me! I’ve always said that one of the great things about homeschooling is that kids have the time and the freedom to follow their passions. Up till now those passions have been soccer and cheerleading 😉 which were relatively easy to support. These new ones provide a bit more of a challenge, but I’ll give it a go!

Turns out the local living museum offer archeology summer camp for those 14 and up and if you are a member you can learn to lead tours as young as 13. BINGO!

B is still a bit young for anyone to consider taking him as an apprentice, but Grandpa has a woodworking shop in the basement and B is always willing to fetch and carry for any family member doing home improvements. He’ll learn and he’ll help…perfect!

I’ve also considered the example I set for my children. Why do I not take college courses? Because (and I’m ashamed to say I’ve actually said this) *what would be the point?* since I’ll *probably never get my degree*. The point would be learning. The point would be self improvement. The point would be I want to and have only resisted because I’m afraid of failing to get that degree.

Not anymore. So what if I don’t get a degree? I’ll learn something which if nothing else I can pass on to the kids.

Besides, it might help with that school.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Wow, I’ve always hated that phrase because I was scared I would fail. I could not imagine failing, at least in college. I did graduate, so I didn’t fail, oh! But I still have a residual dislike for that. But your post was really encouraging to me and I wanted to say Thank You!

    Reply

  2. My DH and I were just having a related conversation. We were saying how an enormous part of pursuing a dream is getting over oneself. For me and this mini-business dream of mine, I keep having to not be self-conscious and just focus on the joy of what I love to do and to go for it enthusiastically … My DH is always telling me, “Don’t worry about failing. Just enjoy what you’re doing and don’t worry about whether you fail.”

    Reply

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