Genetics or environment? Innate or learned? These are classic questions for teachers and parents, as we try to shape and guide the lives of our children and students. How much influence can a teacher or parent actually have? Can we teach our children to be successful?
A study quoted from the CK-12 organization says, “Humans have very few innate behaviors. The only innate behaviors in humans are reflexes.” It stands to reason, then, that the behaviors leading to success can indeed be taught. So where do we start?
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.”
Dr. Joyce Brothers – Psychologist
If our children believe they can succeed, they’ve already won half the battle. We can teach confidence by playing to our children’s strengths, praising effort and improvement, and encouraging them to compete with themselves, rather than against other students. Look for opportunities to let every kid shine, at something.
For more on instilling confidence in children, see these articles on TeachHub.com and Working Mother.
“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.”
Wayne Huizenga – American Entrepreneur
To get up and make something happen, kids need motivation, and as parents and teachers, we know that can sometimes be a challenge. A Vanderbilt University article says, “… Motivators include fascination with the subject, a sense of its relevance to life and the world, a sense of accomplishment in mastering it, and a sense of calling to it.” Perhaps the key message here is to help children see that what they’re learning has relevance and importance in their own lives. Edutopia also suggests that a degree of autonomy, in which students have a say in what they learn and how they approach a project, promotes a greater sense of involvement and motivation.
Find Their Passion
“Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life.”
A.R. Rahman – Composer, Musician, Philanthropist
It’s hard to excel at something if we simply don’t care about it. As noted above, fascination with a subject and a “sense of calling” are significant motivators. Fascination and passion prompt the desire to learn and pursue.
As parents, it may be hard to remember that your child’s passion may not remotely resemble your own. Expose them to as many activities and subjects as you can. Kids aren’t shy about expressing excitement or enthusiasm, so it should be easy to recognize when something captures their imagination.
Teachers should also be on the lookout for sparks of interest and curiosity in their students. At which part in a lesson do they perk up? In which type of assignment do they shine?
As world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking said, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” After you help your children or students identify their passions, look for ways to help them investigate and channel these passions further. And remind them that even with obstacles, there is indeed a path to success.
Learn By Doing
“Keep your eyes on the goal, and just keep taking the next step towards completing it. If you aren't sure which way to do something, do it both ways and see which works better.”
John Carmack – Video Game, VR, and Aerospace Engineer
Countless studies have proven that experiential learning (learning by doing) is the best way to get young people involved and motivated, while enhancing retention. After you give kids a project or goal, let them devise their own unique way of accomplishing it. Let them get “hands-on,” acquiring their desired results by planning, and trial and error. In that way they forge their own path to success, learning key skills along the way.
“Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.”
Paul J. Meyer – Author on Self-Improvement
“Some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.”
Queen Elizabeth II – Monarch of Great Britain
Humans are social beings, and our society succeeds through communication and collaboration. As we explored in Teach Them Skills That Take Them Far, these 21st Century skills, along with leadership, critical thinking, project management, problem-solving, etc., have taken on new importance, as global competition intensifies the need for “real-world readiness.” Find specific classroom exercises to help your students grasp these skills, here.
Yes You Can
“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.”
Solomon Ortiz – former U.S. Representative from Texas
The moral to the story? Whether in the role of teacher or parent, you can teach success. By imparting knowledge and skills, identifying passions, serving as a role model, and teaching kids to devise their own solutions, you can help develop our next generation of happy, productive adults.
We close with this quote from American statesman and retired 4-star General Colin Powell: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”