My assembly for this first week back after Easter is based around the concept of Challenge. I’ve used the good old Chambers dictionary to help me. The Prezi is below; if you can’t see the embed, please click this link.
Challenge: 1. verb: to summon someone to settle a matter in a contest
In the first meaning of the word, we are encouraged to pit ourselves against others. These contests can be evenly matched, as in sprint races which are sometimes decided in hundredths of a second; sometimes the odds can be stacked against us. The difficulty in measuring yourself against the success of someone else is that you can never account for their level of preparation, skill or ability; your opponent is outside your control. Instead, I would like that “someone” to be yourself. Set yourself a challenge and test your own preparation, skill or ability against the standard you set yourself. What are you capable of?
Challenge: 2. verb: to subject to stress, examination or test
Seriously, this was the definition in the dictionary. To challenge something is to test it, try it out, see where its weaknesses are. In the end, this is how your education is assessed in this country – your learning is put under examination. Whilst it is possible to shore up your work with last minute revision, quick fixes and sticky tape, the only way to guarantee that what you have learnt stands up to the test is to make sure that it is securely, properly learnt in the first place. This has the added benefit of taking the stress out of revision as you are going over things you already know again, rather than trying to learn them for the first time. To use the old cliché, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Talking of which…
Challenge: 3. noun: a task, undertaking etc. to test one’s powers or capabilities to the full
This Easter holiday I enjoyed three great sporting events which saw competitors testing their powers of endurance and stamina to the full – and beyond. Firstly, the London Marathon; the water-based endurance test of the Boat Race; and the equestrian challenge of the Grand National. I was sat on my sofa for all three of course, but I haven’t been idle, pushing myself in my own challenges. I am continuing to keep up with my New Year’s resolution of accentuating the positive, and I made a concerted effort to get back on track with my reading pledge challenge, finishing Mick Waters’ Thinking Allowed: On Schooling and reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy cover to cover – both highly recommended.
Challenge: 4. noun: a difficulty which stimulates interest or effort
This is the kind of challenge that I’m really inspired by, and I’ve recently come across the story of NFL full back Derrick Coleman, celebrated in this advert for Duracell, which illustrates this idea perfectly.
Coleman was declared deaf at the age of three. Despite playing American Football through High School and college at UCLA, he wasn’t picked in the NFL draft and was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings when signed as a free agent. However, the Seattle Seahawks gave him a chance, and he scored his first touchdown for them in December 2013 against the New Orleans Saints. Coleman is now a Super Bowl champion following the Seahawks 43-8 demolition of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
It's truly still a dream! Somebody pinch me! pic.twitter.com/c2Q2LYGtxJ
— Derrick Coleman Jr (@DC2forlife) February 4, 2014
Coleman is a true example of resilience in the face of difficulty. Not all of us face the challenges that he faced, but we all have difficulties to overcome, be they physical, emotional, social, or other. How we respond to those challenges is everything; we can let them overwhelm us, or we can use them to stimulate us to try harder, seeking help where we need it and resolving never to give up.
And finally, a word about challenging behaviour…
In the books I was reading for my challenge over the holidays, Tris, the main character in Divergent impressed me with her “never give up” attitude, but it is Mick Waters I want to return to. Mick Waters talks about challenging behaviour, what he calls “giving your teacher a hard time.” He says that most students, when asked what they would do to give their teacher a hard time, would try:
- Talk over your teacher
- Rock on your chair
- Leave your coat on
- Forget to do your homework
- Pretend you haven’t done your homework
However, what Waters goes on to say is that there are other ways to demonstrate really challenging behaviour. He recommends you try:
- Asking for a more detailed explanation
- Asking searching questions
- Asking the teacher to help you understand the subject in more depth
- Asking for detailed feedback on your work to help you improve
- Asking for books and websites you could study on your own to help you understand more about the subject
- Asking for places to visit where you could see the ideas and topics you are learning about in action
Try and challenge yourself to challenge your teacher this week. Push yourself to push them. You’ll both see the benefit.