I recently read a great article in the online New York Times about a NYC private school whose focus is teaching its students to have character. The school’s headmaster, Dominic Randolph, worries that “people who have an easy time of things…get feedback that everything they’re doing is great” and thinks that “.. as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure.” Riverdale students are taught to strive to embody characteristics in six categories: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. The Times even commissioned duct tape art installations in support of the school’s focus on traits such as grit, curiosity, integrity, love, leadership, humility and humour.
To oversimplify, kids are just getting off too easy. No homework, no wrong answers, no failure. It makes a kid feel successful, but is he? In school and in life in general, maybe a little more failure, or at least less of a fear of failure, is in order.