Rachel Simmons delivers strong message at Crofton House Girls School about the curse of the “good” girl.
“One reason I work with girls is because I was deeply marked by my experience with bullying, both as a target and a bully myself,” These were the opening words of Rachel Simmons’s address to the senior girls at Crofton House School (CHS). Simmons, an internationally acclaimed speaker and author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence visited CHS as part of the Whole Girl, Whole World (WGWW) speaker series.
Over an inspiring two days, Simmons addressed the senior and junior students, parents and educators in a series of four interactive lectures with a focus on authenticity, integrity and personal authority. Armed with a self-depreciating sense of humour, brilliant mind, and years of research and teaching experience, she set about to dispel the myth of the good girl. “You don’t have to be amazing at everything, and there is no right way to do your life,” was her message. “Taught to value niceness over honesty, perfection over growth, and modesty over authentic self-expression, girls are locked into a battle with a version of themselves they can never attain.” Her argument is that this curtails their power and potential. It breeds a fear of failure that inherently stops girls from taking a risk, including intellectual risks. Girls need to learn to fail with self-compassion and to develop grit and perseverance in the face of challenges.
Simmons is no stranger to failure. She was born into an immigrant family in the US, who zealously schooled her in overachieving. After successfully graduating from Vassar College, she floundered at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, something she felt deeply humiliated by at the time. Yet, she has since twice been on Oprah, and her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, CNN.com, the Huffington Post and many other publications. An educator, curriculum writer and co-founder of the Girls Leadership Program, she now works with schools and universities around North America.
Simmons provided valuable tools that students, educators and parents can use to encourage girls to problem solve, take risks, build confidence and set boundaries. She advocates that confidence comes from what you believe as much as from what you do; what happens after failure; and what you know about yourself and the world. She prefers terminology such as “finding your sense of purpose” over “following your passion.” And offers that being brave, or having courage, means taking small, incremental steps towards a bigger goal.
Her advice to parents is that the older your daughter gets, your power to solve her problems diminishes. However, she gave step-by-step guidance on how to help her manage stress and/or make choices :
• Don’t try and fix your daughter’s problems. Listen and offer empathy.
• Ask her: what she would like you to do? And, what is the one thing she can do?
• Once she has a strategy, ask her what she thinks will happen if she executes her plan?
• Will her chosen plan help achieve her goal?
“Most importantly, she encourages parents not to make fear-based decisions and rather to rethink the situation from the premise – what decision would I make if I were not afraid? This is a liberating concept and a turnaround from an overprotective parenting style,” says Katherine Grant, chair, WGWW for CHS Parents’ Auxiliary.
Now in its third year, the Whole Girl, Whole World speaker series brings world-class speakers to CHS to dialogue with parents, students and educators about issues that are significant to girls.
Established in 1898, Crofton House School is an exemplary university preparatory day school for girls from junior kindergarten to grade 12. Set on a beautiful ten-acre campus in Vancouver’s Westside, Crofton House is an inclusive, nurturing community of dedicated teachers, involved parents, and enthusiastic students. Innovative teaching and learning practices and world-class facilities create a unique all-girls’ environment where each girl can reach her full potential.
For further information contact:
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Crofton House School
604 263 3255 x 4703
604 992 7828