Learning from Failure

IMG_2398Last Wednesday, the girls had a debate. We split them into two teams and then told them what they would be debating: The state of education for girls internationally. Team 1 would take the stance that parents should be forced to educate their girls by law. Team 2 would take the stance that parents should be educated to understand the value of sending their girls to school.

They had fifteen minutes to discuss their argument before the debate began. They then had twenty minutes for the actual debate.

Overall, it went really well. The girls made some great arguments on both sides, and neither team emerged as a clear winner. We were incredibly impressed with their critical thinking, public speaking, and cooperation. They have clearly made some serious gains in the four months we have been with them!

There is one thing we had not done, though, and we wanted to find a way to make it happen: Make them fail.

Failure is such an incredible lesson for all children to learn. As much as we need to build up their confidence, we also need to teach them how to bounce back from setbacks.

The Monday following the debate, we came back with two prizes. One was for Nija, who was in the “educate” group; the other was for Kimani, who was in the “force” group. These two girls, we explained to all of the girls, led their teams in the debate. They had clear reasoning, strong responses, and overall carried their teams respectively through the IMG_2409debate.

“Nija and Kimani, good job. You win. The rest of you,” we said, “lose.”

There were a few groans. We asked what it felt like to lose. The consensus was that it felt bad. We asked Nija and Kimani how it felt to win, and they said it felt good. They also said they felt a little bad because there was not a prize for everybody.

Then we asked them to share times in their lives that they have failed and times they have won. They had some great stories, accompanied by how they felt during each event. They talked about events such as physical injuries, failing a test, or losing a game. They also talked about successes like passing a class or having perfect attendance.

We ended by teaching them the meaning of the word “resilience”. As we move forward, we plan to use this word to help teach the concepts we want them to understand.

View more posts like this