The Gift of Failure

September 1st, 2015
images.jpegI’ve often told the story of a newly minted teacher considering her first job.  She had several offers, but in the end there were two that were intriguing to her.  One in a difficult and struggling inner city school district; the other in a very wealthy, upper middle class suburban enclave.  She said that she felt like it was a decision between difficult students or difficult parents.

In that choice, we come to understand one of the dilemmas of today's educational system.  The extremes between parents who simply don’t have the time or knowledge to engage in their kid's education, or parents like those portrayed as Tiger Moms, or the Upper East Side moms of Primates of Park Avenue, who take helicopter parenting to a new extreme.  

Worse yet, it generally reaches its apogee at precisely the time in Middle School when kids could most benefit from personal responsibility, social emotional development and yes, even owning their failure. 

This is what NY Times and Atlantic contributor Jessica Lahey writes about in The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.

My conversation with Jessica Lahey:  
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