The message that you want to get across to children in using this text is that we all feel like giving up sometimes. However, we want children to process this and consider whether we should give up. If not, why not? They should come to the conclusion that although we experience negative feelings when we feel like we can’t do something, this is normal. The feelings should not put us off as it is actually when we feel like this that we are stretching ourselves and growing ourselves which is actually a positive thing. The hope is that they will think about this when they hit a ‘stuck’ moment and make the decision to continue as they realise how they must tackle the feeling of ‘I Can’t Do This’ and turn it into ‘I Can’t Do This Yet’.
Moreover, it does not matter if we make mistakes. Mistakes are to be applauded as they help us to learn and grow. (This is actually something I brought into my classroom and now the children laugh and applaud me if I make a mistake! I definitely learn from my mistakes, I can tell you!) As a society we have come to see ‘failure’, ‘criticism’ and ‘mistakes’ as negative entities. The irony is that these things actually help us to move forward as we can learn from them!
It is these ideas that you want to start exploring with the children. However, the story can also be used on a creative level and it is my hope that children will explore the more abstract/magical angle of the text as well. The notion of thought and thinking as a phenomenon in itself could also be explored through using the story. I have put together some ideas of how the book could be used with children.
The ideas in the ‘What does Fortitude represent?’section of this site will also help you with this exploration and children may also come up with other ideas that can be developed and discussed.
Although I am a teacher and have considered how these ideas could be used in the classroom, these ideas could be used with children anywhere, for example in family/ child group settings etc. as they are life skills that are valuable everywhere. In fact, they should be explored outside the classroom!
In order to explore the ideas in ‘I Can’t Do This’ children need to be encouraged to process them at a deeper level, other than simply reading/sharing the story.