Time to stop making failure such an F-word

8th October 2010 at 01:00

Am I alone in noticing a connection between an action highlighted by Adi Bloom in her review of BBC2's The Classroom Experiment and your article "On the Edge" (TES Magazine, October 1)?

In the programme, Emily took her sticks from each teacher's pot, rather than being caught out not knowing an answer because "people do know I'm quite smart".

Like most of us, she doesn't want people to find out that perhaps she's not as smart as people think.

In the magazine article, Jon Berry pointed out that "there's a volcano waiting to explode in every school", suggesting that both schools and teachers bury their heads in the sand until it is too late, and teachers are pushed over the edge.

Teachers generally have high expectations of themselves and, like Emily, will often expend considerable emotional energy to keep their failings secret. In a climate of high accountability, many teachers confess that they're waiting to be found out. We need to challenge the conspiracy that says that failure is unacceptable, and develop schools where staff and pupils learn to accept failure as a step on the road to success.

Julia Steward, Leadership development consultant, Somerset.

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