Psychological safety is the idea that someone feels safe to take interpersonal risks with the people around them. They’re not afraid of being labeled or criticised for saying what they are thinking and feeling. It’s something the best teams have and the worst don’t.
Amy Edmondson is one of the world’s leading experts on it. This quote is from her.
“At a very early age, most of us found that school was a fearful place. Not wanting to get in trouble with teachers or get our assignments wrong - our childhood behavior was driven by a lot of fear. And then, we’velong had this meme around us that indicated ‘this is how bosses act.’ But today, many managers still haven’t yet connected to the truth - this isn’t the way any human being really performs well.”
It’s a sad reflection of our school system, that many of us recognise from personal experience. But it makes clear another component of what it means to be a parent. To build a sense of self-esteem in our kids despite the school system. It means teaching them that their self-worth doesn’t come from what others think about them and how others score or judge them.
If you follow the thinking through, it could become anti-establishment, because it’s saying the system they are in doesn't matter that much. Certainly not to the detriment of their sense of self and mental health.
Of course, this isn’t about the rejection of one thing outright, that’s a binary way of thinking. What it does mean is that, in some circumstances, you have to conform, to do what you’re told even if you don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But only up to a point, the point where the system challenges your values or threatens the well-being of yourself or others. Learning to tread this line is what adolescence is for.
If we have that in mind, rather than thinking that adolescence is all about getting good grades we will be setting our children up for a fulfilling and meaningful life, rather than a fearful but well-measured one.