The classroom opposite mine had a sticker in the window that the teacher had put there after a holiday to the USA. It was clearly visible from my room and was perhaps the most American thing I could imagine. It had a backdrop of a fluttering stars and stripes flag and a faded out bald eagle on the left with the statement “Failure is not an option” emblazoned across the centre. This quote from the movie Apollo 13 was often reused during exam season as a motivational tool. I’m not sure how successful it was but I’m sure many students found strength in the words and attitudes expressed by those pioneers of space travel. However, for my day-to-day lessons, I soon discovered that fear of failure had more of an impact on my students’ attainment than pretty much any other factor you’d care to measure.
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