FAIL

Why I Cringe at this poster.
Why I Cringe at this poster.

I cringe every time I see this. It is a very simplistic view that I strongly believe sends the wrong message to our students. This sends the message that students should not expect success when they try something the first time. It sends the message to “just get the first try over with because you won’t be successful” (as one of my students told me this morning). I think it also sends the message that success is the opposite of failure. I think there is a huge divide between the two.

Not succeeding at a task does not mean I failed. It means I did not succeed. (PERIOD) If I give up trying to succeed at the task, then I have failed at that task. But it does not make me a FAILURE. We must be very careful not to create a culture of failing in our students.

By even posting the above graphic in our classrooms, are we putting a word with negative connotations in front of our students on a daily basis. I understand that the graphic is intended to change the negative emotions. But my students told me today that they would prefer seeing a more positive focus in the classroom.

I also feel that by removing the negative connotations from the word FAIL, we are removing the balance associated with life. I think that when we make everything look rosy and sweet, we do a disservice to our students. They need to have a negative feeling/word attached to not succeeding. We can’t walk through life thinking there are no consequences for our actions. If we try to make every negative a positive, then we negate the positives.  I don’t want to fail because of the negative feelings and connotations associated with that action. I am intrinsically motivated to want to succeed and not fail.

The fear of failing is a great motivator. Don’t take it away from me.

7 thoughts on “FAIL

  1. I want to say thank you to a few people that helped me think through this post. Justin, Doug, Sarah, Melissa, Amanda, Charles and Frank: Thank you all so much.

  2. Tammy, I agree with so many points in your post. The two that resonate the greatest are “we must not create a culture of failing” and “by removing the negative connotations from the word FAIL, we are removing the balance associated with life.” While we strive to be successful and want kids to be successful, we don’t need to embrace a failing culture where students don’t try their best the first time or subsequent times. Trying hard leads to success. Also, we as a society are wanting things to be easy for kids. I see parents routinely intervene in their students’ lives to prevent consequences (even “safe” ones that teach good lessons) in their children’s lives.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jennifer

  3. […] At CUE Rockstar, the faculty members shred, or promo, their sessions at the beginning of each day. During the shred, I admitted my nerves and beginner’s mindset, saying that we were going to try something brand new for the first time, which could either be an epic win, or an epic need-to-overhaul (thanks Tammy Neil for changing my mindset regarding the word FAIL). […]

  4. Thank you so much, Tammy! I agree with this so much!

    “I think that when we make everything look rosy and sweet, we do a disservice to our students.”

    SO makes me cringe – like the “participation awards” Are we training our kiddos to have “grit” to keep trying until they get it or are we training them to be entitled humans who expect to “win” right away and get constantly lauded at every step? Kids themselves, when gaming, will keep trying until they ‘level up” why don’t we have confidence in them to translate that kind of persistence in academics?

    And not to open another can of worms, BUT [gets out her can opener and rips into the can-o-worms with gusto] I also have problems with the term “Genius Hour” being used with abandon in education and schools of late. As a proponent of gifted education and gifted kiddos, overuse of the word genius is just right out.

    Cheers!
    @GwynethJones – The Daring Librarian

  5. […] I cringe every time I see this. It is a very simplistic view that I strongly believe sends the wrong message to our students. This sends the message that students should not expect success when they try something the first time. It sends the message to "just get the first try over with because you…  […]

  6. […] I cringe every time I see this. It is a very simplistic view that I strongly believe sends the wrong message to our students. This sends the message that students should not expect success when they try something the first time. It sends the message to "just get the first try over with because you…  […]

  7. Tammy, I love this article! I also love that two years apart we independently wrote similar articles on the fallacy of failure. I had never seen your article until now, and for a long time I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Thank you for speaking truth to trends!

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