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The Importance of Being Kind to Potential in Education

In a recent interview with Steven Bartlett on his podcast Diary of a CEO, comedian Jimmy Carr discussed the concept of 'being kind to potential'. This idea resonates deeply with educators, as it encapsulates the ethos of challenging students to embrace challenges today to achieve greater success tomorrow. But what does it mean to truly be kind to potential, especially in an educational context?

The journey of education
It's about the little things

The Challenge of Potential

Being kind to potential in education isn't about coddling or lowering standards. Rather, it involves recognising and nurturing the latent possibilities within each student. It means making the tough choices that encourage hard work, resilience, and perseverance. As educators, we often face the dilemma of either taking the easy route—letting students coast through their education without challenge—or pushing them to engage deeply, even if it leads to short-term failures.

The Hard Road Worth Travelling

Encouraging students to tackle difficult tasks, to fail and learn from their failures, and to strive beyond their comfort zones is no small feat. It requires creating an environment that supports and insists on high standards and personal growth. While more demanding for both teacher and student, this approach fosters a stronger work ethic, more focused efforts towards goals, and a healthier overall psyche.

For instance, it would be more straightforward for me as a teacher to issue assignments and allow students to approach them in any manner they choose, without pushing them to overcome challenges or adhering to strict behavioural conduct. However, this leniency wouldn’t serve their long-term interests or contribute to their development as capable, resilient individuals.

Incremental Steps Toward Long-Term Goals

The philosophy of being kind to potential involves a series of small, incremental steps. Each challenge that students overcome builds confidence and competence, setting the foundation for future success. It's about instilling a mindset that values persistent effort and views challenges as opportunities to improve and evolve.

Ultimately, Being kind to potential thus means being rigorously compassionate and unwaveringly supportive in our expectations. It's about preparing students not just for the tests they will take in school, but for the greater tests of life. As educators, our role extends beyond teaching academics; it includes shaping the character and capabilities of the next generation.

This perspective is a call to action for all educators to reflect on how they can truly be kind to the potential within each student. The path is certainly harder, but the rewards—watching students grow into their full potential—are immeasurably satisfying. Let us choose this path with diligence and courage, for in these challenging educational moments, we are crafting the future, one student at a time.

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