International Women’s Day

As educators one of our challenges is to continually encourage students to have tenacity and understand learning is a journey

“Remember that you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone say, ‘You’re not smart enough… it’s too hard… it’s a dumb idea… no one has done that before… girls don’t do that.’ My mom gave me that advice in 1973. And it allowed me to never worry about what others were saying about my career direction.” Meg Whitman, CEO and President, Hewlett Packard

In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, Year 12 Dean, Mrs Gina Peele, together with the Year 12 students highlighted a series of inspiring quotes by women. The quotes, and related stories, were selected by our Senior students. By the end of the week one common thread was apparent – the quality of tenacity.

Often, the people we admire have shown real tenacity in achieving their goals and, this week, without even realising, our Senior girls have each selected inspiring quotes by women that spoke of determination, persistence and tenacity.

As educators and parents, one of our challenges is to continually encourage students to not give up and to understand learning is a process and a journey that encompasses failure, success and tenacity. Many may have read an article which was recently featured in The Weekend Australian by Nikki Gemmel.

Gemmel articulately captured the notion of tenacity. I have provided an abbreviated version below:

Ah, grit. That magical four-letter word so beloved of parents and educators. Otherwise known as tenacity, persistence, drive. A holy grail in terms of success in school and life beyond it. But how on Earth to instil that magic fairy dust of driven determination in our kids? They seem either to have it, or they don’t, and a lot don’t – and as a parent I’ve no idea how to bottle the success formula. Can you instil a sense of grit at 12? 17?

British education expert Mark Maclaine believes you can. For a start, he says telling kids they’re clever is never a good idea – because it gives them the impression they don’t have to work hard. Instead, students should be congratulated on their effort because in the end, that’s what is going to win them through as opposed to raw brain power. Maclaine believes that kids should be taught “the malleability of intelligence.” Research has shown that students who believe in a fixed view of intelligence are less likely to work as hard as those who see it as malleable,” he explains. Grit is about the ability to try again, and again, when things don’t go according to plan. “Great teachers use stories to inspire students: of how great entrepreneurs, explorers and thought leaders made many mistakes but kept going, only to succeed in the end. This is something that parents can do too,” Maclaine says. “Sharing their own experiences of struggle can be hugely empowering to children, as it helps them see the bigger picture.”

So for all our students out there, at the start of this school year power up that grit button if you possibly can. It’s that which will ultimately see you through – and may even have you climbing higher.

Our intent at St Catherine’s is to prepare girls for the future by developing their tenacity, confidence and compassion. As educators, one of the challenges we face is to encourage students not to give up immediately when the going gets tough, and to value the rewards of persistence.

Mrs Michelle Carroll


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