You knew it, didn’t you? Over the last 20 years, adults (both teachers and parents) have been on a track to eliminate failure and risk from our children’s lives. We are afraid our kids are too fragile, and may diminish their self-esteem, or worse, their happiness if they take risks.
Well, I have news for you. It didn’t work.
“Children of risk-averse parents have lower test scores and are slightly less likely to attend college than offspring of parents with more tolerant attitudes toward risk,” says a team led by Sarah Brown of the University of Sheffield in the UK. Aversion to risk may prevent parents from making inherently uncertain investments in their children’s human capital; it’s also possible that risk attitudes reflect cognitive ability, the researchers say.” The Harvard Business Review posted this report, but alas, it won’t help us unless we do something about it. Adults continue to vote to remove playground equipment from parks so kids won’t have accidents, to request teachers to stop using red ink as they grade papers and even cease from using the word “no” in class. It’s all too negative. I am sorry—but while I understand the intent to protect students, we are failing miserably at preparing for a world that will not be risk-free.