August 4, 2011 23:20 by Caleb
It was Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” This summer CALO students have discovered the truthfulness of this statement as they have focused on learning a number of aquatic skills. Whether it is believing in yourself enough to pass of the challenging swim test, or learning to get up on water skis, our students have spent this summer exploring their own beliefs.
Self Efficacy is the understanding that your belief in success is a greater predictor of future success than past experience. In order to help our students believe in their own ability to succeed it is important that they learn new skills sequentially, allowing them the opportunity to build on small successes.
Recently I spent a fair amount of time helping one of our young ladies complete a swimming test in the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. She had already check off the requirements of floating on her back, treading water, demonstrating the three primary swimming strokes, and swimming a full 300 yards without stopping. All that was left was the dreaded weight drop. During this activity you must swim down ten feet and pick up a 5 pound weight off of the bottom of the lake floor. After swimming it up to the surface of the water you must tread water for 20 seconds holding the weight above your head. This is typically the final and most difficult portion of the swimming test.
As I was helping one of our female students complete this task it was clear that she had no belief in herself that she was going to succeed. She would duck her head in to the water for roughly three and a half seconds and then come dramatically out of the water gasping for air. She then proceeded to explain that no matter how hard she tries there is no way she was going to be able to succeed. She needed help, she needed a victory.
This young girl and I swam over to an area that was just five feet deep. There we practiced over and over again picking up handfuls of dirt. We talked about how difficult it is to dive down deep you’re your lungs full of air. We discussed the importance of swimming vertically to decrease the distance to the lake floor. Eventually we moved out to a depth of seven feet and then eight. A week and a half later this young lady was grabbing dirt off of the bottom of the lake at ten feet deep. When I proposed that she swim down and pick up the weight there was a certainty in her voice and a confidence in her face; she had no doubt she would succeed.
This process of building on success functions in any setting and with any skill. The concepts are consistent, and what is even more exciting is that they are transferable. When the young lady surfaced with the weight and passed off her swimming test there was an uproar with her peers and she received a swimming ovation. As we talked about her success we were able to apply the principles of hard work, education and persistence to algebra, household chores, relationships and therapy as well. Regardless of what struggle you are facing, “Whether you think you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”