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Mike Fleetham Mike's Thinking Classroom Blog


On Struggle


Like some kind of modern-day CGI Sisyphus, Scrat tells us everything we need to know about the futility of misplaced effort. But he also teaches about struggle and success in learning. Take a look at his life below then let's find out why every pupil in school needs to see this cartoon.


I guess most of us want the same kind of things in life: to be happy, fulfilled, safe, secure; to get a bit of affection now and again from a loved one; esteem too, and some kind of control over our day to day lives and how we spend our time. Maybe a new car. And some more shoes aswell. (And a bag while we're in town). Whatever we decide we want, getting it is our personal definition of success.


There's some interesting data out there around goal setting. Take this set from Statistic Brain about Americans' New Year Resolutions. 72.6% of these 1st January goals are kept for a whole week. Which also means over a quarter of American New Year Resolutions fail within seven days. There's also the apochryphal story of Harvard MBA graduates in 1970s. The tale goes that those who wrote down their life goals ended up, ten years later, earning twice as much as classmates who didn't. But 3% of students who wrote their goals, and also made a plan, had incomes ten times larger.

Whether you believe this or not, why would you (or any of your students) not plan for a future that included your success?


'Success is getting knocked down seven times and getting up eight'; 'If there is no struggle there is no progress'; 'Grit is living life likes it's a marathon not a sprint' etc. etc. Motivational quotes abound and are far easier to read than put into practice. For each of us there come 'Sliding Doors'/Parallel universe moments when we can choose the harder route towards our success or the easier one that avoids it. What happens in those split seconds - when we decide not to eat it or spend it or smoke it or avoid it or say it - determines if we, eventually, get what we want.


Scrat struggles to the ends of the earth to keep his nut. But is this the right goal for him? Three equations for children about struggle and success:

1. Struggle + wrong purpose = wasted effort

2. The right purpose + no struggle = wasted time

3. The right purpose + the right struggle = success

Rather than New Year Resolutions, take on this kind of thinking when you and your pupils contemplate achievement and the efforts needed for it.

Posted in: Mindset/Skillset
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05 January 2018 11:26


08 January 2018 14:20


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