By : Zainab Khaliq
The Power of Belief
“I’m too dumb for this, I don’t even know why I’m doing triple Science. Ms Holland (Pseudo name) is right to move me down to double” was a student’s response to when I asked him why he didn’t complete the Science task that was set in class.
Now, at the start of the year, this same boy was enthusiastic and doing well in the class. However, he had concluded that he was too 'dumb' to be in a triple class set just because one teacher told him that he would be moved to double. This teacher didn’t feel he was capable enough to do well in triple science. Sure, he had some behavioural issues but he was definitely not dumb, he just needed a chance.
Isn’t it amazing how one person’s belief (or lack of) about a child can impact them so greatly, to the extent that they no longer put in the effort?
This reminded me of a situation I faced whilst I was at university. Having gone through 2 years and not doing so well, I was eager to pull it together and do the best I could in my final year. I spoke to my ‘mentor’ and told him that I really wanted to do well in my final year and wanted advice on how I could turn things around. I remember his words to this date – “Zainab, there’s nothing you can do now, it’s too late. You’d have to get over 90% in most, if not all, exams to get a 2.1 or a first” I was working at a 50% at the time. I was shattered to say the least and his little laugh as I left his room did not help either. I had given up hope.
I went to speak to my dissertation advisor. I explained the same situation to him as I did to my ‘mentor’. I remember his words too….“Zainab, anything is possible, just pull your socks up and you can do it.” He went on to tell me a story about someone else on the course who was failing but came out with a first by the end of his degree. I was ecstatic! From that day on, I worked my socks off, and yes I got over 90% in all but 1 of the 8 final exams!
You see, it’s easier to believe in yourself after someone else has believed in you first.
Negativity, discouragement and the ‘you can’t do it’ attitude crushes a child’s soul. Encouragement, belief and positivity make them believe anything is possible! Parents - believe in your child, Teachers - believe in your students, so that they can believe in themselves! And I promise, they will show you what they’re capable of.
Some phrases to help encourage self belief in a child: 1. “You are capable." 2. “You've got this." 3. “I believe in you." 4. “No matter what happens, I love you." 5. “I know it's hard, but I have seen you do it before." 6. “You make me proud." 7. “Want to hear a story?" 8. “Sometimes we make mistakes, and that is how we learn."