To achieve Step 4, individuals will show that they can persist at a task but also respond to setbacks by thinking about what they can learn from when things go wrong.
In earlier steps, the focus was on how to keep trying and stay calm when something goes wrong, with a focus on managing their emotional response. The development here is to introduce some analysis of what caused the problem, and how to learn from it.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
In previous steps, we have explored how we might have a negative emotional response when things go wrong. We looked at how these emotions might include sadness, anger or fear.
However, when something goes wrong, there is often learning that we can take from that experience. This learning might come from several places.
Along with science, lots of businesses and other organisations also take the attitude that it is good to try things out even if they end up going a little bit wrong, because we learn useful information through trying them out. This testing of hypotheses is explored a lot more in Problem Solving Step 12.
The most important part of learning lessons when something goes wrong is about having the attitude of wanting to learn those lessons.
For us to be ready to learn lessons, we must first get into an emotional state where we can think clearly and rationally about what has happened. Being able to think rationally means being able to think in a sensible and logical way.
In previous steps, we looked at how to move from natural reactions of being sad, angry or scared to be in a state of calm. This is important to do if we are going to be ready for learning.
Then, learning is about asking ourselves a series of questions:
Firstly, analysing the situation itself:
Secondly, thinking about what could have prevented that happening:
Thirdly, thinking about what lessons to take into the future:
This sort of analysis, once calm, means that even when something goes wrong, we can take something positive out of it – some useful learning that we can use in the future.
Many educators believe the best learning comes from things going wrong and mistakes being made. Things can go wrong all the time in education. It might be something quite simple such as forgetting to pack everything you need for a day’s learning, or it might be something that feels important such as finding it difficult to understand a new idea in a particular lesson or subject. When something does go wrong there is learning we can take from that experience. We can learn to change our behaviour, to be aware of any risk of it happening again and recognise how we feel about it. We can learn to not make the same mistake again in the future, if we keep trying. The most important part of learning lessons when something goes wrong is about having the attitude of wanting to learn those lessons.
Many businesses and other organisations like to try new things out. It might be using a different type of computer software to store all their customer account information, or it could be trying a new way of packaging their products or advertising their services. Workplaces may try a new way of doing something in order to save time, money, and often both. They may also wish to give a better service to their customers or improve conditions for their employees. Sometimes trying a new way of doing things might go wrong. It might not have the positive results that were expected. However, useful learnings can be made through trying them out and thinking carefully about what happened.
Each day, every day, there is a risk that something may go wrong. We might make a mistake ourselves which leads to something going wrong. It could be getting caught in a downpour or leaving our wallet at home. The thing that went wrong might be out of our control. However, by looking back we can see that we could have done something to have been ready just in case it happened. When things do go wrong, we can learn about ourselves and how we react in those situations. We can all learn from mistakes, things not working, errors made, if we think about what has happened and keep trying.
To best practise this step of Staying Positive, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
The teacher can introduce the step and the question of how we might learn something when things go wrong. Each of the four main types of learning opportunities can be introduced, and the teacher could model an example of each in turn. Learners could share their own examples from their experience at school or from their wider lives.
The teacher can remind learners of the importance of getting back into a positive, or at least neutral, emotional state before they can think about what happened and review it.
Learners could contribute their ideas of questions that they could ask themselves to review a situation and make improvements. The teacher can organise them into the three broad categories of:
Learners could then reflect on a real incident from their own lives, or analyse a created scenario – either alone, or in groups.
This is a step that lends itself well to the classroom, as it can be a powerful tool for turning setbacks into more positive learning experiences. It can be applied to events that are being learnt about – natural disasters, historical events, scientific experiments, events in literature – or to events in learners’ own lives.
This step can be assessed through a discussed hypothetical task, but a key part of mastering this step is the learners’ ability to control their own emotional response first, and then to be able to look at a situation reasonably objectively. For this reason, discussion of events from learners’ own lives might make for a better assessment approach, but this will need to be supplemented with a sustained view of how learners really react to things going wrong.
This step will be relevant to those who will experience setbacks at work.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
Discuss the importance of trying to learn something when things go wrong. Here a manager might explain that this learning might come from several places, listing the four examples set out above.
Model how to get back into a positive, or at least neutral, emotional state before they can think about the lessons they can take from that event.
Task an individual to review a current work situation and make improvements. A manager might support an individual through a process where they:
Reflect with an individual about how an individual has learnt from a real incident from their own lives.
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through extended discussion with an individual. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: