Waving, not drowning

You know that feeling you get when you think you know what you’re doing and then someone points out that you don’t and it’ll end in disaster?

One minute you’re up.

‘This is a great idea, I’m so clever, it’s hard to do but I’m making it work!’ your inner voice whispers.

The next minute you’re down.

‘Oh no, I’ve got it all wrong, now what can I do, I’m so stupid I can’t even get the simplest things right.’

Like life really, ups and downs.


We paddle about in the shallows quite happily and then a big wave rolls in, nearly washes us off our feet, all excitement, falling down, getting up, losing your feet, finding them.

Then energy dissipates in foam and rolling shingle, leaves a few bright shells, bits of seaweed, smoother sea for paddlers.

Until the next big wave.

We had one recently, it was thrilling, knocked us all over place but we bobbed up and turned to watch it crashing onto the beach, all that power ending up in a swoosh and swash.

Beachcombing. Finding for free.

Press an ear to the big pink shell

‘Teach children their brain is muscle, exercise will make it grow,’ it whispers, ‘do this and all will be well’.

‘oh and …..,’ it whispers a bit more, ‘… if they’re rubbish at maths don’t say ok you’ve done your best and you’re good at other things, tell them they’re not any good at maths yet, but maybe they will be one day.’

‘Oh, sorry, and ….,’ your arm is beginning to ache now because it is actually quite a heavy shell, ‘remember to focus praise on the process not the product and … all will be well’.

This is a bit weird because we know that when you listen to a shell you hear the sea. Maybe this is Cymopoleia, goddess of giant waves, speaking to us about teaching? About teaching! That would be even more weird.

Mooch back home, pink shell in one hand seaweed in the other to think this through.

A nice cup of tea.

OK, it wasn’t Cymopoleia whispering in the shell, it was Carol Dweck. It’s her wave that nearly knocked us down. But the energy has mostly gone, caught and absorbed by us as we do, the voice stilling though echoes remain.

Listen to the shell,

‘You’ve got one mind, two mindsets and a flabby brain. Use one dump the other, grow brain muscle or be stupid.’ Ache.

‘Oh …. And all will be well…’


Dweck moves on, using her trumpet to blow other seas into different waves, talking to mothers of fresh new material who should get on with growing their babies’ giant thinking muscles too. When these babies arrive in school they’ll have to wear extra big hats to shield them from the sun.

Then us teachers can get back to mooching about in the shallows, growing children into people, laughing and drinking tea.