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Perryman Post - The Importance of Failure

November 11, 2019
By CAK Communications

Dear CAK Parents,

I trust that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Break. I am so thankful for all of you. Second-quarter is almost complete, and your kids are doing great!

If you will remember my September post, I quoted a statement by a teacher to a parent. In that statement, I want to build off the last sentence “…it appears the more we pushed them academically, the more we failed at teaching them life.” This phrase is a concern to me in that life mostly is learned through difficult and trying circumstances, not through constant success. If you are like me, my life has been full of missteps, poor decisions, and failure. Calvin Coolidge, I believe, presents a nice idea of persistence:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

So, how is persistence developed? I submit to you that it is through failure and setbacks that we learn persistence. It is taking that challenging AP course, then working hard and failing the first quiz. It is auditioning for Musical Theater and not getting the lead. It is through trying out for the basketball team and having to sit the bench. Our students need to experience failure; life is full of failure. Trying to shield students from failure is not teaching them life.

The most valuable lessons I have learned have come as a result of the failure. Were these lessons painful? Absolutely, however, they inspired me to improve and attain goals that I did not feel I could ever reach. There were times that I didn’t learn from my failures and paid a heavy price. 

No one wants to see their child fail a class or not get picked for the school play and definitely not sit on the bench. Yet, your students need to experience “failures,” and if they do not, they will not be ready for life. Henry Ford was quoted as saying “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” May I encourage you to challenge your child to take those hard classes regardless of how they will impact their GPA. Please encourage them to try a sport, work hard in practice to earn playing time and in the process, learn valuable lessons in teamwork. Invite them to audition for a role in the play; they may discover that it is a blast even if they are on the stage crew!

This post is from my heart to yours. I love our students as I know you love your children; they must be taught life. As adults, we all know life is hard and full of disappointments, let your children experience discouragement to see them grow.

In God's grace, 

Dan Perryman
Interim Head of School
Christian Academy of Knoxville

Posted in Perryman Post