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.