Our biggest fear

Our biggest fear

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What is your biggest fear? They say the biggest fears we have are fear of flying, public  speaking, heights, the dark and intimacy. I have another theory that came from the great philosopher John Cleese which goes something like this:

“it’s the goal of every englishman to get to the end of his life without ever having been embarrassed”.

How true this is. Recently I was at an event with my children and every time someone asked for volunteers for something (whatever it was) my children’s hands went straight up in the air – so much so that I thought they might end up on the ceiling they were so enthusiastic about it. It struck me that there must be a time when volunteering and putting yourself out there became uncool. Probably teenage years did it for us. The need to fit in, not be enthusiastic about anything and certainly never put yourself in a position where you might be embarrassed.

The problem with this change in our attitudes is that we can miss out on so much if we don’t take a risk. If we never do anything new or different because of the fear of embarrassment then we will miss out on so many wonderful, challenging and fulfilling experiences in life. When we’re at school much of what is taught is about getting the right answer. Tests are about seeing if someone has memorised and understands the answers to questions. There’s not much room for individuality or being different, having a different thought pattern.

When I think about all the people who’ve done great things in their lives, most of them stepped away from the norm. They weren’t bothered about being embarrassed or failing but they had an idea and just kept trying to get it right.

I saw a video today that I’ve seen before but it struck me again how powerful this is when thinking about our education system in the West. Take a look and be open to think differently about what we are teaching our children. Those children who find the academics of education difficult need especially to be stretched and challenged to find other ways to express themselves and to learn. So maybe they can’t sit still for long, or do their times tables – they may be resourceful in other ways, they may be able to access sports, music, drama, art. They may in fact have fantastic ideas that if we let them explore those ideas there may be gems in there that if repressed would never see the light of day.


Whether you’re a parent or an educator, take some time to think about how you are creating the environment for the children of today to be able to learn outside the box – to be able to think differently and not be afraid to step out, fail and be embarrassed!

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