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Nurturing Resilience: Helping Students Embrace Mistakes in the Journey of Learning

As educators, we often encounter students who are exceptionally hard on themselves, constantly striving for perfection, and deeply frustrated by their own perceived shortcomings. It's natural to want to reassure them by comparing their performance to that of their peers, but as the saying goes, "comparison is the thief of joy." Instead, let's explore a more effective approach to help these students thrive in their learning journey.

The Dangers of the "Comparison" Strategy

Comparing one student to another can be a double-edged sword. While it may temporarily alleviate their stress by showing them that they are doing well relative to others, it often leads to a harmful cycle of further comparison. In the age of social media and constant connectivity, young minds are already bombarded with comparisons daily. The last thing we want is to reinforce this tendency.

Why Mistakes Matter

Rather than relying on comparisons, we should emphasize why making mistakes is an integral part of the learning process. Mistakes are not failures; they are stepping stones to growth and improvement. Encourage your student to see their frustration as a positive sign – it means they care deeply about their progress.

The Importance of Challenges

It's crucial to discuss why learning should be challenging and why challenges are essential for personal development. Children are hardwired to seek challenges and overcome obstacles. It's not the difficulty itself that scares them; it's the fear of failing, falling behind, or disappointing others. This fear can be paralyzing, but it's also an opportunity for growth.

Drawing Parallels with Games

If your student enjoys playing video games, you can draw parallels between their gaming experiences and learning to drum. Most gamers will tell you that easy games quickly become boring. On the other hand, games that are too hard can be frustrating. Learning to drum is just another game, one that becomes more exciting as they level up their skills.

Remind Them of Their Support System

It's important for students to know that they are not alone on their learning journey. They have a support system in place, including parents, teachers, and even their fellow students. Reinforce the idea that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Validating the Struggle

While it might be tempting to say, "No, it will be easy," to comfort your student, this can backfire. They may become even more frustrated when things don't turn out to be easy as promised. Instead, validate how hard the learning process can be. Acknowledge their struggle and emphasize that the "easy" path has lost its appeal because they've outgrown it.

Highlighting the Value of Difficulty

Reframe their perspective on difficulty. Let them know that "hard" is not a negative attribute; it's a sign that they are pushing their boundaries and growing. Encourage them to embrace the challenge and relish the journey of improvement.

The Case Against Exams

Lastly, consider whether standardized exams are truly necessary for their drumming education. Standardized assessments can often add unnecessary stress and hinder the joy of learning. Encourage a more holistic approach that focuses on mastery and personal growth rather than rigid examinations.


Helping a student who is exceptionally hard on themselves requires a thoughtful approach that goes beyond comparisons and superficial reassurances. By emphasizing the importance of mistakes, the value of challenges, and the support available, we can guide them toward a more resilient and fulfilling learning experience. Remember, it's not about making it easy; it's about making it meaningful.

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