Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What If Wednesday? Let's Talk Failure...

What if failure was seen as an opportunity to grow?

What if failure was seen as the beginning instead of the end?

What if failure didn't define students but just became part of the learning experience?

Failure...the word in and of itself definitely has a negative connotation.  It brings feelings of anxiety, defeat, and fear.

In education, failure does not look like it does outside of the classroom.  In "real life", failure is an opportunity to improve, an opportunity to grow, and something that everyone experiences.

Unfortunately, in the classroom, failure is sometimes seen as the end, instead of the beginning.  It's a failing grade on a test, an F on the report card, or a bad choice that results in a consequence with no opportunity to learn from the experience.  Failure is also not something that everyone experiences in their educational careers.  I know many students that have no idea what it feels like to fail because it's never happened.  They have never seen failure for what it is and feel that if they ever do fail, they will be a disappointment to those around them.

Every student deserves the opportunity to experience failure.  They deserve to struggle and must learn that sometimes the best learning actually happens in the struggle.  It is the experience and reflection that builds resilience, grit, and an ability to persevere, even when the learning takes work.

It's no secret that this generation of students loves video games.  The opportunity to fail safely plays a huge role in their willingness to play a game over and over.  They are okay with failing because they are given multiple opportunities to be successful.  They don't have to do anything extra, they don't have to answer to anyone,  they just keep trying until they get it right.  And they do just that.  They try and try and try until finally...success.  And that success is so sweet because of the many failures that led them to it.  It's a badge of honor to defeat a game that is known to be difficult.  They talk about it, they share strategies and play until they experience success.

What if that's how they saw the classroom?  What if they were willing to try and try and try until they were successful?  What if they saw completing a difficult classroom challenge as a badge of honor?

As adults, we fail every single day.  We learn from those failures and are often better because of them.  Let's stop letting failure define our learners in the classroom and help them realize that when they fail, it is an opportunity to learn and grow.  In doing so, we will create learners that are willing to learn by doing, take risks, and try until they get it right.

                                                        Image Source: @teacher2teacher


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