Learning from failures
As Exupéry said, children are flowers born with their knobs down. Exactly form that moment they need protection and care. Only due to that they will have healthy and happy childhood. In addition to this, our children need proper and measured upbringing.
Our organization was trying to overcome poverty and illiteracy in 10 regions of Armenia offering 150 working children to take part in special trainings and obtain basic education under working circumstances.
Basic education was designed for the child that’s why very simple material was chosen. However, there were also complicated themes, which were not mastered by children immediately. That's why the in addition to the material of basic education, interactive games were conducted, through which easy and interesting representation of the basic educational material became possible.
We admit that our first failure was connected with non-proportion and large-volume of the educational material.
There are some general requirements distinguished by our organization while conducting the games for the basic education. They contribute to the development of thinking, enlarge their outlook. There are some points in games that should be considered, however our organization had some failures in those points. Those points are the followings:
-the game should be conducted, leaded, interfered in case of necessity, but they should not be oppressed
-each participant should have the opportunity to express initiative
-the principles of freedom and voluntary should be primary in the games; there should not be any imposing
-the content, rules and conditions of the game should be clear and comprehensible for children.
During the group work with children we distinguished some points that are some of our failures and will definitely lead us during the future process of the project:
-to choose a comfortable room for the group work implementation. It is not desirable to have many things there, which can distract the children's attention.
In case of possibility, to choose comfortable chairs. The children are not desired to sit around tables, they are better to sit in round
-it is desired to prepare all the material before the meeting
-to pick up «Do not disrupt» signboard before the meeting, to warn children onsecrecy, which means not to tell the speech of group participants to other people out of the group
-to encourage children to speak about their feelings and to present their experience
-to help children to take responsibility for their behave
The child feels satisfaction when she/he studies and works with pleasure. When there is a comfortable environment in the group, the participants work with confident and seek to learn and create. Games are one of the most effective methods to create such environment.
Our trainers conducting group activities have to have appropriate preparedness, and it is important to remember while working with children that they are more sensible and vulnerable, than adults. Group work is a very powerful influence method, which can be effective, but also can make emotional pain and strong feelings. That's why trainer managing the children group, should have group work experience and continuously increase his/her professional abilities.
Non-engagement of games and exercises having great refreshing influence in the project is also a failure as children got tired of learning process fast and needed refreshing. We are planning also to add refreshing and animating games in the curriculum, which will contribute to focusing attention of the children.
The limit of the number of children
Many children wanted to participate, however the number of project participants was limited and the money would not be enough to engage more children. We do not consider this fact as a failure as our organization is going to invest its whole capacity to contribute to the continuousness of the project and engagement of new children.
In many regions area was an issue, and regional group managers have tried to solve that issue by conducting lessons in the open air.
Our failure in this is connected with non-engagement of psychologists in some stages of the project.
One more issue is to be distinguished. The teachers are only 5-7 years older than the participants and they also need education and self-perfection. They lack experience and retraining and try to fill that gap with the help of consult with the other members of the organization. However, only advice would not help as they should also be good pedagogues to understand the participants well. For example, there was a boy amongst the project participants in one of our regions, who was very aggressive and maybe had psychological problems. Psychological skills were necessary to work with him, and the trainer could master them only in case of passing retraining. In order to solve this problem special course with the engagement of psychologists were conducted.
In other region we had a failure again as the trainers were boys and had chosen only boys as project participants. This brought to gender inequality and did not ensure engagement of two sexes. This problem was solved during the second stage by engaging representatives of both sexes.
One of the most important moments of the relationship between trainer and child is the ease communication and sharing between them. Setting such relationships and reaching open conversations require time, persistence and understanding. Trainers should provide time to have time with each child individually, especially, when there is a necessity to speak about the problems exciting children.
Definitely we may admit responsibility as the obstacles aroused later could be considered. However, nothing is ideal and, of course, seeking for perfection should not stop.
One may continuously learn from false and failures and our organization doesn't miss any opportunity to learn and become perfect. Our failures taught us to be more reasonable and attentive while implementing the projects and to contribute to the retraining of the trainers in a great part.
Now, while implanting the other stages of the project, we are using all that we have learned from our failures. We are conducting special trainings with the trainers, prepare them psychologically in order that they implement easily and effectively the courses with children. We are adding many new games and exercises as the project gives non-formal education. The trainers also pass special courses - “Facilitation skills” in order to be able to work skillfully with children.
At the end, we want to remember the popular idea of Coco Chanel:
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
During the lesson
Individual work with children