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to think 'you can do anything if you try' is not a helpful message?

(84 Posts)
ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:01:37

I've just watched something on ceebeebies where the moral of the story was 'you can do anything if you try'.

Well no, I can't fly without mechanical aids, I can't invent a new col

WafflyVersatile Mon 13-May-13 22:12:10

Applying any of these catchy little wise sayings without considering context or critical thought is unhelpful. Most of them have an equally 'true' but opposite counter-proverb.

many hands make light work
too many cooks spoil the broth

you get the idea.

Except for 'moderation in all things', including using motivational pep talk catchphrases.

Birdsgottafly Mon 13-May-13 22:37:40

I did my BA as a mature student, we have mature students in our workplace on placement. The main reason why many have waited until they are older to aim for HE, is because they were not given the confidence to do that whilst growing up. There was a ethos of "its not for the likes of you" in my school, in a deprived area, when it came to anything worthwhile, education, housing etc. So I think that we should wait to add realism to the message that we give to children. We have to ask ourselves why there is more self doubt and low self esteem/confidence about, than the opposite.

Birdsgottafly Mon 13-May-13 22:39:44

My point is that, that message is perfectly valid for the age range that enjoy CBB's.

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 22:54:57

Aim for the sky, and you get to the top of the tree. Aim for the top of the tree and you stay on the ground.

Ooh no I don't like that saying either. If I want to achieve something, I break it down into manageable steps and come up with a project plan of how I'm going to get there. This saying sounds to me... well, trite. It sounds like something you'd see on Facebook in a flowery font.

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 22:57:29

I enjoy CBBs blush

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 13-May-13 23:57:56

You can do anything if you try = if you don't try hard enough you will fail = it's my fault I have failed = keep trying at expense of health and happiness...

I am that person who married an abusive wanker, & ruined my health (two parallel evils, not one causing the other)...

All the time I was getting ill my ears were filled with 'you're just making a fuss, stop whining and try harder', off colleagues, family & friends. I made myself permanently and severely disabled as a consequence. I wish I had not internalised this ridiculous message and will not be teaching it to my son.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Tue 14-May-13 00:01:12

Also... I do think a universal characteristic of women who've been in abusive relationships, is their capacity to endure, to keep trying in the face of adversity.

One of the hardest things is to break is that pattern of enduring and trying and taking on the blame and responsibility ... not a good result of the 'try and you will achive' mantra

WafflyVersatile Tue 14-May-13 01:15:30

Surely anyone who has been in an abusive relationship, not just women.

If at first you don't succeed try, try again, then give up.

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 01:18:58

YANBU. A lot of those feel-good quotes are total rubbish if you stop and think about them!

garlicyoni Tue 14-May-13 02:30:29

YANBU! It's absolute bollocks and is preparation for the even bigger lie "If you can dream it, you can be it."

Dangerous, life-defeating shite, all of it.

Any behavioural psychologist will tell you that "Trying", as an objective, is self-defeating. Trying carries failure within it - you either do it, or you "try". Make the effort instead.

There's nothing wrong with aiming high, playing to your strengths, finding out how much you can do (it will be more than you thought, as long as you didn't buy this superhuman positivity rubbish), and enjoying the effort. All of which people have done, very successfully, for thousands of years.

You'll be amazed at what you can do when you give it a go!
Just do your best, that's great!
Have a go, see if you want to learn how to do it better smile

Just don't fucking "try", OK?

garlicyoni Tue 14-May-13 02:31:55

I do think a universal characteristic of women who've been in abusive relationships, is their capacity to endure, to keep trying in the face of adversity.

Oh, YYY, Double sad

RonaldMcDonald Tue 14-May-13 02:40:04

It feels as though we set crazy goals and then fail to meet the standard required
better to try to teach to be happy in yourself and in enjoying life no matter what you do

VerySmallSqueak Tue 14-May-13 08:23:45

Another saying of course is 'setting yourself up for failure'

Loads can be achieved but it's all to do with realistic expectations and determination and drive and hard work.

And there is nothing wrong with failure if from the outset you allow that option and decide whatever the outcome you are going to learn something along the way.

cory Tue 14-May-13 09:14:11

I think it is quite possible to instill confidence in young children without going the whole "you can do absolutely anything" hog.

Teaching them to concentrate on trying hard for its own sake, because it is good and fun to try your absolute best at something you want to do, teaching them how to handle failure, teaching them to compete against themselves. Their confidence will grow as they see themselves improving.

"No point in trying" is a deadening message. But so is "if you try hard enough, you simply have to succeed". There are plenty of messages in between.

Enjoyed watching your video link Waffly - very interesting and really watchable with the accompanying cartoon visuals. thanks

OhLori Tue 14-May-13 09:21:54

Agree. I've always thought this a foolish expression that has very little to do with reality.

DeWe Tue 14-May-13 09:51:22

Aim for the sky, and you get to the top of the tree. Aim for the top of the tree and you stay on the ground.
Surely that's saying "you will always see yourself as a failure"? Or "You will never achieve as good as your aim"?

Probably a better one for children would be "if at first you don't suceed, try and try again". Encouraging them to get up and give it another go if they didn't manage the first time.

Although the CBeeBies message I got very irritated about was Bob the builder: Spud does something having been told explicitly not to. Causes extra work for everyone else. Says "Aw sorry" and everyone says "that's okay" hmm So it's okay to be deliberately naughty as long as you say "sorry" at the end.

expatinscotland Tue 14-May-13 10:05:51

Anyone who takes life advice from CBeebies is destined for trouble.

Toadinthehole Tue 14-May-13 11:07:03

I don't agree with the premise of this thread.

There's nothing wrong with telling children that hard work pays off.

I very much doubt that many children are taken in by the idea that one can do literally anything if one tries hard enough. I remember someone making the same comment at me when I was about 8, and saying at no matter how hard I flapped my arms I wasn't going to fly.

What we should be telling children is that steady work means they will be just fine: if they want to be really good at something, hard work is required, and if they enjoy doing that thing, so much the better. We should also be telling them that it's OK if they don't have some great hidden talent. Most of us don't, after all.

In the meantime my DD1 tells me her teacher says "everyone's talented at something", and interpreting that as meaning she doesn't have to work to develop her talents.

FasterStronger Tue 14-May-13 11:18:01

I agree with Birds and Expat.

Adults should not take life advice from CBeebies. but there is nothing wrong with young children learning to aspire - after all someone has to be the next Jessica Ennis and why shouldn't a 3 yo dream it will be them?

as you get older it should be modified to add realism. I always think someone has got to get through this bad situation/win this thing and it could be you. if you act in a particular way, you can increase your chance of it being you. and it you don't try, chances are, it wont be you.

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 11:57:06

I think it's an important lesson that even the hardest work and effort doesn't always lead to success or good luck. Often it can pay off, but not always.

I don't agree with the right-wing ideology that "hard working people" always get what they deserve and anyone who has experienced setbacks or failures isn't "hard working" enough. Life just isn't that simple.

Society is over competitive and celebrity obsessed though don't you think Faster?

I don't especially want my DC's to aspire to be the next Jessica Ennis - I'd rather they just say "I can't decide which athletics event I like best Mum, they're all great" - I think that would be a better indicator that they had the right attitudes and skills mix to have some potential for success in that arena.

In any case my aspirations for them are more that they will be able to live happy and fulfilled lives. A degree of success in achieving their chosen aims and ambitions may be an element in this.

I guess the conservative philosophy is based on the idea that we could all "get on" if we "worked hard"
Illustrated by the idea that our DCs taking SATS this week should all reach the expected level 4, regardless of underlying ability and inherent individual differences.
As you say Decoy the diversity of people's skills, experiences, and circumstances makes it all a bit more complicated than that !

MadBusLady Tue 14-May-13 12:32:09

I wish I'd known that giving up isnt the same as failing.


And also, actually hard work doesn't always pay off. I read a lot of jobs and careers advice columns where people are absolutely convinced that they landed a particular job/career because they worked hard. What about all the people who worked hard, but didn't get the job that they got instead? What about people who are good at stuff that happens to be very competitive? Do those who don't get jobs/promotions all work less hard than all the people who do get jobs/promotions in less competitive sectors? Of course not. It makes no sense. But everyone is working off a sample of one and believes that correlation equals causation.

It is possible to really, really want a thing and work very, very hard at it and still have it not happen. That's ok, though. You are still the same person you were before. You are not diminished.

It has taken me the whole of the length of my childhood again to work this out, basically because of damaging messages like the one in the OP.

Samu2 Tue 14-May-13 12:32:17

I had this exact conversation with my almost 14 year just last night. He told me I could do anything I wanted if I tried hard enough, I mentioned how I will never be able to fly and he said "yeah, it is a really silly thing to say now I think about it"

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