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Jessica Lahey’s ‘The Gift of Failure’: A Fear of Risk-Taking Has Destroyed Kids’ Love of Learning

Jessica Lahey’s ‘The Gift of Failure’: A Fear of Risk-Taking Has Destroyed Kids’ Love of Learning
I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time. “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.” She’s absolutely right. The truth—for this parent and so many others—is this: Her child has sacrificed her natural curiosity and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it’s our fault. I look at this mother with concern on her face, her eager pencil poised to write down my words of wisdom.

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