“Try to be original in your play and as clever as possible; but don’t be afraid to show yourself foolish; we must have freedom of thinking, and only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.” Anton Chekhov

Quite a mouthful this week to say the least! The theme, however, is much simpler; risk-taking and it is one of my favourites. Having taught the International Baccalaureate for many years, and its “Learner Profile” which is a list of 10 attitudes and behaviours that the learners need to demonstrate (or be taught/encouraged to display), this is the one that has always struck home for me, and is something that I try to develop in all students.

Now, when we say risk-taking, obviously, we are not talking about going to play football on the motorway or swim with great white sharks. What we are talking about is trying to instil confidence in young people. The confidence to give new things a go, to answer in class, to deliver an assembly, to practise their English or French or new equations or play a piano piece in front of people even when they know that it may not be perfect. As Cyrano de Bergerac said: « On ne se bat pas dans l’espoir du succès. Non! Non! C’est bien plus beau lorsque c’est inutile. » or “We don’t fight in the hope of succeeding. No! No! It is so much more beautiful when it is useless.” In other words, give things a go not because you know that they will be successful but because you know they won’t be, but that you will learn something from the simple act of doing them.

As a teacher, one of the most frustrating things is when students don’t try; when they won’t answer, read out loud, present their research or generally take risks. Classrooms have to be safe learning environments, where mistakes can be made, where nobody is teased or worse for getting something wrong. Remember, we all make mistakes and it is making mistakes that both make learning happen and then reinforce that learning.

Be a risk-taker. Try something new. Give it a go. Especially when you think that it will not be perfect-you never know-it might just be…

Have a great weekend wherever you are and don’t forget to pop in and see us if you are in the area

Best Wishes

Chris Randell