Reminder: “Community of Readers” invited to discuss giving kids the gift of failure – Monday

Above: The N-S K-12 district’s “One Community of Readers” asks parents to consider an author’s advice to let children fail. (image right cropped from book cover)

On Monday evening, the community is invited to discuss “The Gift of Failure”. The Northborough-Southborough Schools administration will host book groups in the Algonquin Library at 6:30 pm on October 28th.

As I previously posted, the district is asking parents to be part of “One Community of Readers”. At the heart of the request is a parenting book some of you may be familiar with.

In 2015, Fay School invited the community to hear from author Jessica Lahey. This spring, she’ll visit Northborough to talk to parents of students in our public schools about the same topic, her book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.

Leading up to that, the district is inviting parents to read the book this fall and take part in a discussion. For those of you worried that they’re asking you to drink the kool-aid, the school assures that differing opinions are allowed.

Here is the announcement from the Superintendent’s September newsletter, emailed this week:

Join our School Community Read:
“Ten Schools, Three Districts and One Community of Readers”

This year the District is launching a Ten Schools,Three Districts and One Community of Readers book group. The book selected for our community read is, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. The purpose of the school community read is to engage families in discussing the topic of parenting and engaging in conversations about the role that failure has in the learning process of a child. The purpose of the community read is to engage in a larger conversation about a shared text. In fact, you might completely disagree with the author’s message.

How can you get involved? First, we encourage anyone who is interested in participating to read the book. Copies of the book are available at each of our ten schools’ libraries and the town libraries. Next, there are two opportunities to connect with others to discuss the book. First, on October 28, 2019, at 6:30 PM in the ARHS Library, there is an opportunity to discuss the book with others in a smaller “book group.” At this session, there will be guided discussion questions to facilitate conversations. Secondly, on March 25, 2020, the author, Jessica Lahey, will be visiting our District and giving a keynote speech. You can participate in one or both of these sessions. The goal is to engage the school community in shared learning, making connections, and conversation about parenting.

Lastly, for those who are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, it’s available on Amazon by visiting: The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey

To reserve a copy through the Southborough Library, click here or call 508-485-5031.

Here’s a bit on Lahey and her book from Fay’s 2015 promotion:

Jessica Lahey writes the bi-weekly column “The Parent-Teacher Conference” for The New York Times and is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. . .

What’s the best way to motivate students to own their education and develop resilience? Jessica offers advice for fostering intrinsic motivation and weaning kids off of extrinsic motivators such as short-term rewards, bribes, honors, coercion, and yes, even grades, while giving kids the support and encouragement they need to succeed. She also will summarize current research on autonomy-supportive parenting, competence, rewards, praise, and failure.

Since then, a brief excerpt from one of Lahey’s talks on the subject has been posted to YouTube. You can watch that below to get a taste of her approach:

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lynn oliver
3 years ago

Yes, we need intrinsic reward, namely tools to improve mental reward received for mental work expended or – mental motivation. The idea of allowing failure to succeed later can work provided we are also providing tools to continually improve in those areas. Our current genetics models which say: “students are naturally good at this and bad at that” are currently removing this hope from both our parents and our students. Just letting go will not work if we do not provide hope for improvement. No it is not sheer effort. We need to understand two, very important variables/tools which are greatly affecting our thinking, learning, motivation, and mental health.
1. We must redefine our average stress as many many maintained layers of mental work which take up real mental energy which leaves less mental energy for new mental work. This is made up of many layers of past experiences, fears, mental conflicts along with many weights and values power, strength, force, fear, preparation for defense, etc. developed from a young age which may act as magnets for other accumulating layers over time. Then any present situational needs, fears, anxieties, etc. go on top. Try to see an upright rectangle representing our full mental energy. Then draw in many (innumerable) horizontal lines from the bottom to represent those layers. The space we have left represents our leftover mental energy for new mental work and length of reflection time. We need lower layers for reading to have the proper mental energy for visualizing, decoding, reflecting on material, learning new words using our much larger social vocabulary, and enjoying the process. Much more on this on request. We can more permanently lower those layers.
2. We also need to understand the proper dynamics of approaching newer mental work more slowly and using more reflection time to visualize and appreciate what we trying to learn/enjoy. Sadly our schools are still very very backward in simply using Gardner’s/Galton’s model of succeeding by ability and “more effort” rather than understanding how learning/intrinsic reward and long-term motivation to read really take place. Will be happy to explain in much greater detail applications.

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