Success is individual .. win – win.

When we set our own goals then we are truly the only one who can know if we are successful.

When I am teaching or working with people, I use the following learned definition for success. “Success is, being happy,……being creative,……being powerful (having the ability to act),…….and being aware.” -(Lazaris).
By dropping the notion that success is about winning in competition with peers, certainly changes the realms of possibility for success for each individual, and stops me from making personal judgements about a person’s right to choose their own form of success. It may look totally different to what my past experiences has led me to see.
As I add each new shift into the paradigm , both my growth and that of the students, expands exponentially rather than linearly. It keeps me alert and open.
Something I love about Music, Art, Sport, Cooking, and Woodwork is that there is room for the creative element, for personal taste and preference that defies logic and chronology. What is fun for me is not necessarily fun for others. Unlike areas like mathematics where ‘getting it right ‘ is unfortunately often considered being successful, these other areas allow to a greater degree the right to individual success, the opportunity to have a different answer, and the opportunity to keep adjusting and changing the process of solving the problem. So, I adapt my courses to have creative problems to solve that allow for individual approaches to finding solutions.

By working with this definition of success, I can allow more flexibility into even a subject like mathematics. If a problem is found to be solved incorrectly, the student’s ability to recognise the mistake and re-do the problem until the correct solution is found can now be included in the process . This is being powerful, and creative, and aware, and hopefully will conclude with the student feeling happy. You may think that this process is already in place. Teachers include the activity of correcting mistakes. However, what I am attempting to change is really subtle. It brings to refinement the saying…’It’s not what you do. It’s the way that you do it’ . Each shift in the paradigm is intrinsically linked and so this will be dealt with more in the section on mistakes.
Students may take longer to find the solution, but I can’t accept that science, or any learning area is about being first or being fastest. To me, it is about coming to a place of understanding concepts and being able to use them when appropriate. So, let’s eliminate the competitive element and make it fun. Many students have a great deal of difficulty accepting the possibility of Maths being fun. It is true that competition involves the process of learning, but learning does occur without the competition which demands a winner. Being competitive with one’s self is a healthier idea. To be competing against one another for the sake of winning actually contradicts many elements in the new paradigm and therefore undermines the preferred outcomes. A sharing or group approach doesn’t co-exist with competition. Keeping egos ie, winners, out of the learning environment and fostering self esteem, from my experience, certainly makes the teaching easier and fun. To have experienced a whole class totally supporting, and actually cheering on a fellow student who is in the process of achieving a personal goal is magic. I can only wish that every teacher experiences it and knows, that this is learning in its most beautiful and rewarding form. It is self motivation supported and celebrated by the group.
This idea of success certainly challenges the teacher, because so often the teacher gauges their own success by seeing how many students they can get to achieve at the higher levels, or get ‘A’s. Amusingly many teachers also have a belief that you can’t have a whole class getting ‘A’s, and so they have a self defeating system. In fact very few can win in a system that is competitive. In most cases only one can actually win. When success requires that everyone wins, that we are all a team, then no-one can lose.
Again, an exciting challenge. As I implement and practice this aspect of the paradigm, I bump into the conditioning of the children who have been taught by competition where the success is determined by someone outside themselves. Here are comments that are constantly heard that show how deep this conditioning is.
……Is this what you want us to do?
……How much do you want us to do?
……Is this right?
……Will I get a good mark for this?
……Why did you give me ‘C’ for this?
……What do we have to do?
…… You gave ‘so and so’ an ‘A’.
In each of these comments there is no ownership of the learning nor the assessment of the learning. The criteria for success is also outside the control of the student.
Often teachers arguing against some of these ideas say that the majority of students, when asked if they would like to change, say no. I find this grossly unfair when the students don’t know anything else. Without them experiencing the alternative they are not making an informed choice. Remember that I am challenging the way we teach ‘responsibility’ and dealing with ‘change’. I cannot pretend that every one of my students accepts that this way is best. I can honestly say that from my own research, it is only ever around two or three students in any class who after experiencing these changes prefer the old paradigm. Further, from a totally personal perspective these are the students who are most resistant to trying new experiences. They are the students who have the greatest propensity to blame, when being responsible is the issue.
It may occur to you that although explanations are presented to support this paradigm shift, virtually no descriptions of “How To Do It” are given. This is because I am talking about concepts. When adopted, the new and unique approaches to fit the required learning create the ways needed. It is a problem solving approach and illustrates how I personally came to these decisions for myself. I would pose the question “How can I do my work effectively and yet not punish?” “How can I present this learning to the class and have it be Fun for us all?”
Think, discuss and research with other people. Experiment and explore and then assess yourself using the same definition as I gave you at the beginning of this chapter. Am I being Creative? Am I being Aware? Am I being Powerful? Am I being Happy? If all four are present then you are successful.
I am moved into spaces of experimentation and creativity and I make lots of mistakes. But I benefit and the students benefit from a willingness to keep exploring. At the end of the book suggestions and examples will be given to help illustrate how you can approach learning in a new way. Often just by being willing to look at things differently a new solution will present itself.*

*Eduard De Bono’s creative thinking strategies are very useful tools.

To help you get in touch with your own definition of success write down anything that you could classify as a success for you over the past 24 hours.
For me, I would write:
1. Doing all the things I had written on my list.
2. Finding a gift for my friend’s coming birthday.
3. Feeling unstressed at the end of the day.
4. Finally having the courage to talk to my partner about an issue that’s been bothering me.
5. Finishing the week under budget.

Maybe yours are similar, assuming each of your successes made you feel good and did not involve a win/lose situation but were more likely win/win situations. See if they involved each of the components of the definition that I have adopted. When you feel happy, it has a habit of rubbing off on others that you come in contact with throughout the day. This to me is a win/win situation. If everyone leaves the classroom feeling happy as a response to their own decisions and actions, I believe we all win. I encourage learning to take personal responsibility for both our successes and our happiness.