TheTen: That Day The Whole Grade Failed

Students arrive to Shanghai American School with a lot of talents. Failing isn’t usually one of them.  


While Grade 9 students were out and about in Shanghai, we simultaneously hosted TheTen, sending our Grade 10 students on four days packed with activities ranging from sailing to movie-making. What was beneath these fun-filled itineraries? Building those essential human skills that can elevate their whole education. But don’t tell them that.  


Some of these lessons had to do with connection and belonging. Teachers commented that they got to see whole different people in their students, once being graded wasn’t the end product of an activity. Dynamic, whole selves emerged as students bravely tried new things. They laughed, held their heads higher, and with that, ushered in a new sense of community.  


A big component to this was exploring a willingness to fail. (One of the activities was even deliberately designed so that every person was guaranteed to fail.) Failure is something our students often fear, something to be avoided. And yet, research shows that the best innovations and the best growth often come from an inclination to push boundaries and risk failure, sometimes over and over, and learn from it. It can feel like high stakes to take this approach in the classroom, when so much seems potentially tied to grades. But teachers (and the world) are hungry to see this quality in people, and this is developmentally a time when taking risks, failing, and bouncing back have great long-term payoffs.  


Enter TheTen. “You have to take kids out of their element, so that they can all take risks from a level playing field,” says Ann Ireland, a High School Counselor. “This way, they can try out, together, a more comfortable relationship with failing. And then look what happens: they’re okay. They try again, smarter.”  


We are excited to welcome this new generation of brave risk-takers back into their classrooms. Failing for the win.  

 Risk. Every day at SAS .


Read about TheNine HERE.  

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