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Teaching the Value of Failure to Succeed
Fear of failure is an obstacle to learning and can be better used as a tool for critical thinking.
Why is it that we don’t understand the value of failure? Is it so ingrained into our culture that failure is bad, not acceptable, and otherwise a sign of lack? How is it that failure is so misunderstood and no value is found in the process of trial and error?
If there are advantages to understanding the value of failure, how do you build it, in a significant way, into the scope and sequence of learning.
What Failure Looks Like in the Classroom
In the classroom, inquiry-based learning uses failure to its best advantage as a learning activity in which the solution or end result is not known. This kind of learning even leaves the teacher without the answer, as students come up with different solutions.
Encouraging routine trial and error encourages more inquiry. It allows time for students to make mistakes, go the wrong direction, or totally fail. But the response to this failure is not devastating humiliation, but rather a way to learn by not making the same mistakes again.
If there is room for improvement, the stakes are lower in the failure process. It’s a formative way that allows students to practice and get better at that particular task. In other words, it takes a few outs before experiencing the high of that first homerun.
Risk-taking helps to move students forward and build confidence and persistence. When students look deeper into the reason a project failed they are learning, and to some extent, self-teaching.
Challenging problems encourage students to collaborate, since working together makes the problems much easier to solve than working alone. The synergy of multiple viewpoints allows each student to contribute and share, even if they fail, because they are not alone in their failure. The collaborative spirit is encouraged and grows.
If students understand that ‘getting it right’ from the start is less important than what they learn in the long run, they approach the project more comfortably. It encourages a more open-minded approach to stepping back, thinking critically, formulating a plan, and then taking the first step to a solution.
A low mark on a student’s paper need not seem like the end of the world, but rather a challenge to move forward and do better. Failure is an opportunity to review the concept and discover the error in thinking.
When students are encouraged to approach problem-solving in nonlinear ways, they learn to use multiple possibilities for refining their thinking and over time become more skilled critical thinkers — better prepared for the real world.
At Yorktown Education, our students are given the opportunity of self-discovery from day one. Helping guide them toward what they love to do gives them an incentive to step forward with confidence. We believe that learning the value of taking risks to achieve helps students be less afraid of failure and more inclined to embrace it as a stepping stone. We invite you to come by for a visit and a tour of Yorktown Education. Discover a better way of learning.