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Learning Perseverance

Learning Perseverance, Jigsaw Performing Arts Schools

Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of “10,000 hours” has firmly entered popular culture since his book Outliers was published in 2008. The idea is that perseverance and practice can make someone great at something. This can count as much as, if not more than, what someone is born with.

Whether these hours can be counted exactly, and what the roles of natural ability and practice are precisely, are still up for debate. But it’s a nice powerful number and an important corrective.

We love the story of an overnight, instant success. Often, however, that’s just what it is – a story. Less exciting, but more realistic, is all the hard work that goes into becoming an “overnight success”.


“Actually, I’m an overnight success, but it took twenty years.” – Monty Hall

One of the classic examples is Edison and his team testing over 3,000 designs for the light bulb. Then there’s Harrison Ford, working as a carpenter when he was cast as Han Solo in Star Wars. Or JK Rowling, whose manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected many times.

We can do a a great disservice to children by creating role models and sharing narratives that only embody the idea of instant success. It can set children up for disappointment and fail to convey the importance of perseverance.

This is why children need to be challenged in life and to learn to challenge themselves, to develop their own goals and work towards them.

Unfortunately, the education system is often limited by the need to standardise and treat every child the same. Everyone needs to study the same subjects in the same way, and everyone has to take the same tests.


“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

Children who consistently struggle in the same area can miss out on that vital sense of progression. They aren’t shown those steps in between to get them from where they are to where they want to be. They might grow frustrated and give up, having not seen a clear path to success and not learned the value of perseverance.

On the other hand, children who find those same tasks easy without working hard can then struggle in other areas, or in the outside world later in life. They haven’t been challenged, so they haven’t developed the mindset and skills necessary for persevering, for working hard to accomplish something that doesn’t come easily to them.

This is why it’s all the more important to give children activities outside of school through which they can learn the value of perseverance. Every child is different, every child will learn in different ways and every child needs individual goals that will challenge them.

We’ve written before about the many benefits of drama, singing and dance. Another underrated benefit of the performing arts is that – with the right encouraging teacher who recognises children’s individual needs – they teach the value of perseverance.

Whether it’s working hard on a scene of dialogue, a song, or a dance routine, children can see their own improvement over the course of weeks, and that’s incredibly valuable.

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page