Learning Without Failing

There are many educators today that promote the idea of “Failing Forward”. They seem to believe that the only way to move forward is to make failing a part of the common vocabulary. I call horse pucky on that. 

Why are we setting our students up for failure in the first place? Shouldn’t we, as educators, be intelligent enough to know BEFORE an assessment if a student is ready? If he/she isn’t ready, why are we pushing him/her to take it? When did we stop being professionals and start putting a pacing guide before the needs of our students?

Let’s celebrate the successes. Let’s be encouragers when mistakes happen. But please, let’s stop creating a culture that tells our future adults that failure is necessary to be successful. That just isn’t true. 

Failure is the act of giving up. When one doesn’t get the outcome one desires, it isn’t failure. It’s just a different outcome. Despite what Michael Jordan is quoted to have said, he didn’t fail. He struggled to succeed. Had he failed, he would not have been THE Michael Jordan we all know today. Thomas Edison didn’t fail to make the light bulb all those times. He was testing hypotheses. That is a successful scientific method. 

Students that “fail” should feel bad. Let’s help them learn how to use those emotions as motivation to jump back in and try again. That’s not a celebration; that’s our job as educators. 

2 thoughts on “Learning Without Failing

  1. Dealing with the bad feeling of failure takes experience and practice. I really like your thoughts here. I feel being told to celebrate failure is like being forced to eat burned food and told you should like it because it builds character. Just spit it out and make a new meal!

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