Schools Must Foster Risk-Taking
When Giovanny, a high school senior, told me he was going to quit AP biology because he got a D on a test, I realized I had to write this poem. Giovanny represented all of the students to whom I have dedicated my career—specifically, to ensuring that all students have a chance to choose the college path. Giovanny was a former ELL student excelling in high school and on track to be the first in his family to attend college.
We had a long talk about mindsets, and Giovanny decided to stay in the class—but that moment he almost quit haunted me. It was the seed for this poem, an ache to help a student I cared about understand that growth always involves taking a risk to attempt something we think—but are not certain—we can do.
It’s easy to forget the dynamic of risk-taking in the world of K-12 education, where success is mapped in a staircase of standards and academic achievement is key to opening doors. I dedicate my life to helping teachers advance how they help kids learn literacy and academics, and yet, as I watched Giovanny almost walk away from opportunity, I realized there is something we must all do better: help kids be risk-takers.
Beyond Three Rs and Four Cs
Yes, reading, writing, and arithmetic—the traditional 3Rs—are important. As are the new 4Cs of twenty-first-century success: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. But stack all seven of these together and the foundation they build will only take students as far as their courage allows.
I know this as a writer who never used to dare create on the page. I speak this as an entrepreneur who never would have started a business without the courage to fail. The first time I spoke in front of 800 people, I didn’t know if I’d tremble or fall on my face—but I did it anyway.
Jump on Three
Every milestone in my life has hinged on my courage to do what I didn’t feel prepared to do. It’s how we learn. This poem is an example: it is my first attempt at spoken word. I didn’t know if I could do it, but my ache to express this message dared me to try.
Please click on the poem link at the top of this blog or here, and share it to inspire others to jump on three.
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What role has risk-taking had in your life? How do you find the courage?
How might we best empower students to dare to do what seems impossible?