Sunday, March 17, 2013

Encouraging Failure

          What does a successful blogger (@jonacuff), a children's book author (@peterhreynolds), and a New York Times bestselling author of leadership books such as The Fifth Discipline (@petersenge) have in common? All three are well-known, inspiring, motivational, credible and all three endorse and encourage failure.
In his first public event (#startnight #startbook on Feb. 7th, 2013) to market and advertise his new book Start, Acuff was seen and heard promoting not only his book, but the idea that one must be willing to take risks and fail if one wants to make an impact and truly achieve their dream. As I followed his book's promotional event on twitter, I quickly discovered it was the number one trending topic on twitter that night and the following picture was prevalent on the twitter stream...
             In addition, Reynolds' children book Ish, has recently highlighted the beauty of encouraging and allowing children to be themselves in their creative artwork without fear of being judged for being "right" or "wrong." What a freeing idea... allowing children to be free to create and not having to worry about living up to other's expectations. Children can create and innovate with permission to fail in order to learn more.
Finally, no section of Senge’s work is more apropos, than his piece titled “Creating Practice Fields.” Senge was basically speaking my language when he wrote about the current state of the traditional classroom with traditional classroom learners. The sad state of affairs is what Senge labels “passive” when he describes the typical classroom learner. The idea of students sitting passively compliant in a classroom is not only bad practice… It should be treated as professional malpractice in today’s 21st century classroom. The alternative Senge suggests is that “practice fields” be introduced as a replacement to the traditional classroom. The “practice field” is a place in which “students are making mistakes, stopping, trying again, talking about what’s working and what isn’t, and gradually developing a greater ability for effective action in the (areas) where results matter” (Senge, 300).
               Unfortunately, students are backed into the corner of right versus wrong answers, the high stakes of standardized testing, and the pressures of passing or failing. Failure should be encouraged and praised according to Acuff, Reynolds, and Senge. I seek to continue to sojourn with the likes of the three aforementionedtrailblazers in changing the way traditional education views the classroom.
Will you join me? Do you agree or disagree with the thought that we need to encourage students to fail in school?