The importance of failure (and of praising effort not intelligence)

Neon sign reads: People fail forward to success by Ian Kim on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

I’m finally learning Russian (again)

I am currently learning Russian and reminding myself of the integral importance that failure has in the learning process.

Continue reading The importance of failure (and of praising effort not intelligence)

Twins in school—together or apart?

Reuben and Joshua on their first day of primary school
Reuben and Joshua on their first day of primary school

As we approach the final few weeks of the school year, last week I received an email from Tamba, the twins and multiple births association, of which we are members, about a resource to help parents decide whether to keep their twins or multiples together in the same class or not.

We decided to separate our twin boys, and it turns out to have been the right decision. Each has bloomed where he has been planted, each has found his own confidence. While it’s not always been the easiest of paths for either of them, or us (and we’ve often found ourselves wondering if we made the right decision) I am so proud of both of them in how they have grown and matured during this academic year.

The Tamba resource is a short document, produced with Tamba’s support by the Hackney Learning Trust, that outlines the issues to consider. If you have twins or multiples who are heading to school soon then it’s certainly worth a read.

Download the Together or apart guidelines and checklist from Tamba.

My JIIG-CAL results from 1985

My JIIG-CAL results
My JIIG-CAL results print out from June 1985. Yes, that’s geniune ye olde 128 line, tractor-feed computer paper.

Thinking about what I’m going to do next I looked out my JIIG-CAL print out from 1985 to see what it had suggested that I do.

JIIG-CAL stands for “Job Ideas & Information Generator – Computer Assisted Learning” and is a software application that helps students to work out, based on a simple questionnaire, what they would be good at career-wise.

In 1985, while I was in fourth year at Selkirk High School, I remember sitting in a classroom filling in the JIIG-CAL questionnaire, which then had to be sent to the Borders Regional Council headquarters to be entered into a computer (probably the size of a lorry!) and a few weeks (!!) later we received back a dot-matrix print-out with our recommended career paths. (How things have changed.)

Here’s what mine said, it’s dated 26 June 1985 (that’s over twenty years ago!!):

  1. Statistician (8/10) – Skills: logical, numerical ability, good self-expression, co-operative
  2. Occupational Therapist (8/10) – Skills: good organiser, resourcefulness, sympathetic, good with your hands
  3. Youth & Community Worker (8/10) – Skills: outgoing personality, good organiser, energy, tolerant
  4. Social Worker – Fieldwork (8/10) – Skills: sympathetic, pleasant manner, able to inspire confidence, patience
  5. Assistant Prison Governor (8/10) – Skills: able to understand other people’s problems, leadership, good administrator, able to discipline
  6. Mathematician (8/10) – Skills: good concentration, logical, analytical, good self-expression
  7. Probation Officer (England/Wales) (8/10) – Skills: able to inspire confidence, perseverence, resilience, sympathetic
  8. Social Worker – Residential (8/10) – Skills: able to inspire confidence, perseverence, resilience, sympathetic
  9. Insurance Underwriter (8/10) – Skills: sound judgement, honesty, able to take responsibility, accuracy
  10. Physicist (7/10) – Skills: scientific approach, numerical ability, good reasoning power, accuracy

So there you go! I’d forgotten that it had suggested that I ought to become an Assistant Prison Governor. I wonder why only ‘Assistant’, what skills would I need to become a full Prison Gov’nor? I loved this skill required: “able to understand other people’s problems” … yeah, but we’ll lock them up anyway!

What I find fascinating, and which I think probably does still apply to me, is that I seem to have been suggested jobs which are either entirely people-oriented (occupational therapist, social worker, asst prison gov’nor) or are predominantly theoretical (statistician, mathematician, physicist). Hmm… head or heart?


Friday 20 June 2008 I’m now featured on the BBC News Scotland website. Check out this new blog post: Jiig-Cal and BBC Scotland, which includes a video blog post by me using Seesmic.