Over the last two weeks Tomos has faced some challenges. He has traveled to the other side of the world to a place where he knows no-one, other than his mum, and has enrolled at the local primary school in Quillan. It can’t be easy, given the travel, social, language, cultural, and academic issues.
Tomos could not have anticipated each particular challenge over the past two weeks and the challenges to come in the months ahead, but he knew from previous trips the scale of the challenge. He knew roughly what was he was letting himself in for.
Surprisingly, he went into this adventure willingly. Enthusiastically, in fact. Why would he do that? Why would anyone do that? Staying at home would be the safer option. Why are some people up for challenges and some aren’t? i don’t have the answer but I can see that it’s an important question, assuming you accept that life is better, or might be better, if you don’t shy shy away from challenges.
It seems to be easier for young children. Toddlers progress by putting themselves well outside their comfort zone much of the time. Like all three-year-olds, Nicholas is always up for a challenge. He wants to mow the grass even though it is physically impossible for him to push our rusty hand-mower. He wants to cook dinner despite the risks from knives and ovens. He is desperate to do many things that are as yet beyond him. The concept of personal failure doesn’t seem to exist for him, at least not as most of us older people understand it. For him, the frustration of not being able to do something is a question of timing. He wants to do it now; if he can’t do it now, he will keep trying (failing in adult terms) until he can do it. Failures are simply not-yets. It is a refreshing attitude.
Some time between toddlerhood and adulthood we all loose some of our appetite for setbacks. And that’s why, in my middle-age, I love seeing people at any age chase their dreams and force their way past whatever barriers stand in their way. (There are always barriers.)
Tom’s attitude to the challenges of this French adventure is what his school teachers at his New Zealand school call a growth mindset. Retaining or acquiring a growth mindset is more important than acquiring any particular academic knowledge. With a growth mindset, we can do anything; without it, we generally languish.
Well done, Tom. Keep being up for it.