The cry of ‘I can’t do it’ is regularly heard in every school and in every household across the land. If we are honest, we can’t even blame this entirely on the children. How many times do we use this phrase when we encounter something we find difficult or as an excuse to avoid something we know we’ll find challenging? Changing a tyre is a prime example in my house. Now of course I am capable of doing this myself, but the truth is I’ve never tried. It always seems so dirty and difficult. It is so much easier to watch my husband do it and give encouraging instructions from the sidelines! However, by doing so I am missing the point. When you find things difficult, when you’re faced with a new challenge, something you can’t do – this is where learning starts. Failure is an essential part of the learning process. It is only through grappling with these challenges, learning from our failures and being prepared to try again that we can make progress and learn new skills.
The trouble is too often our children see people being successful and think that this talent comes naturally – that you’re either artistic or not; a talented sports person or not. We don’t talk to them about the hours of practice they have gone through, the sacrifices they have made, the failures they have encountered, the resilience and determination they have shown in not giving up. These are the things that have made them successful – the success itself is just the tip of the iceberg.
At Castle Court we are determined to banish the phrase ‘I can’t’ from our classrooms. Not, as you might expect, by stopping pupils saying it, but by just asking them to add one simple word – yet. By adding this simple word it changes a person’s mindset. My struggle is only temporary, with hard work and determination I will be able to do it; I just can’t do it yet.
So next time you hear your child declare ‘I can’t do it’ remind them of the power of ‘yet’. As for me, I’m not a master tyre changer yet but I’m working on it – I’ll keep you posted!