When a group of principals urged the Victorian Government recently to scrap ATAR because it left too many students ‘feeling like failures’, a CQUniversity education expert feared we could potentially be taking away a student’s ability to find success in life.
Adjunct Senior Lecturer and neuroscience expert Dr Ragnar Purje says no one or thing can make a student feel like a failure without their consent, and in fact systems like ATAR enable students to develop perseverance, resilience, and the knowledge that success doesn’t happen without hard work.
He believes this in itself is a valuable life lesson which will set students up for success in life.
Dr Purje states the well-known mantra, “When the going gets tough, the tough keep going”, encompasses his philosophy of our persistence builds resilience and success.
“To dream, believe, achieve is all well and good; however, what must take place is the understanding of how you are going to achieve your dreams,” Dr Purje said.
“It’s important to know that self-esteem develops over time, and it will have periods of ebb and flow.
“To ensure students develop their self-esteem constructively, purposefully, and with integrity, it is important, from the time children start school, they are regularly introduced to the reality, that it is their work and their effort which advances their skills and knowledge.”
He said therefore students actually must fail at some stage to enable them to succeed in the long term.
Dr Purje believes schools have the responsibility to provide much more than just academic knowledge; they must also develop students’ mental and emotional potential, along with broad-based life skills and social abilities.
“If a student does not have the intrinsic skills, knowledge and qualities to deal with mistakes, problems, disappointments and adversities, it could move the student to blame a third-party for their failures.
“For a student to be able to learn how to deal with mistakes, and the feelings of disappointment, they must realise that mistakes and success are two sides of the same coin.”
He says they are equal partners in the life lesson.
“Research shows that success cannot and has never really been achieved without mistakes.
“Mistakes, errors, concerns, and failures, with associated successes, are the cobblestones that build the road of knowledge.”