In a recent ASCD newsletter, there was an article entitled, “Why Educators Should Teach Students How to Fail.” The premise of the article was that “students should be allowed to experience failure and rejection, so they can learn resiliency and become more motivated to succeed.” Yes, we have to learn how to deal with a lot of negative things in life without being crushed. It got me thinking about when I was in school and how making a mistake and failing at any task was devastating. Why does the word failure have such a negative definition? It would be great if we could replace it with learning opportunity or Oops, let’s try that again. After all, “the only real failure in life is the failure to try.”
As educators we must help our students develop coping skills, strategies for reflection, and how to learn from mistakes… not just academically but at a social level as well. Remember, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Experimentation, inquiry, exploration, discovery are all based on searching until you find a solution or multiple solutions… and still seek a better solution. You cannot be creative or innovative if you are afraid of failing. We have to model risk taking in our own learning and teaching. That’s what I love most about the Discovery Education learning community… always helping me push the edge of the envelope!
For an inspirational TED Talk, view Diana Laufenberg: How to Learn? … From Mistakes. Diana talks about the changing role of the school, and how we have to move from a culture of “one right answer” and “fill-in-the-bubble tests.” Schools need to provide experiential learning, empower student voice, and embrace failure. As Sir Ken Robinson said in his Schools Kill Creativity TED Talk, “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.”