Encouraging Risk-taking Through Failure

Get students to try new solutions by encouraging students to try things that might or probably will fail the first time.

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Convincing kids that failure is part of learning is a hard sell. Many have had it pounded into their heads that paying attention in class and getting it right the first time is what happens when they study hard, but learning and creativity take a different path for some. Many people need to try something out, fail at it, try again, make it a bit better, and keep trying until something is learned, or they get it to work correctly. If we can get kids to realize that each of them have the potential to be great in his or her own way, and the way to learning and success is different for each person, maybe we can get more students to try something new, to give learning a chance even after they failed the test, and that if they never try, they may not fail, but they also will never succeed. How cool could it be if kids got recognized, not for a perfect grade, but how many different ways and times they did something until they got it right? Pressing kids for multiple correct answers or ways to get those answers should be rewarded, not just the one way the teacher taught it.

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Photo of Michelle Fontenot

Helping kids to see the value in persisting through mistakes is such a fundamental life lesson! A lesson that we don't often focus on in school. Kudos for making this idea explicit!

Photo of Emilia Dicharry

Hi Richard,  
Hopefully we can connect on your excellent idea.  Have you considered utilizing the Facebook Live platform?  It runs live which might be a fun tool for you and your students. 

Photo of KRISTIN Nash

LOVE!!!! Failure is an essential part of learning.

Photo of Michelle Fontenot

Wow! What a great way to encourage innovation, Richard! It can be difficult for students to see the benefits of an extended period of experimentation in our short class periods, where the ready solutions and quick answers shine. Making the long road to discovery a competition in and of itself is a great way to highlight the unexpected ideas that crop up along the way. This type of exercise is truly preparing students for a world in which the solutions they need on the job typically can't be googled. 

Photo of Erin Quinn

I think there's real potential in this idea not for a learning activity so much, but as an assessment tool. How might we design an assessment tool that reinforces failure as a driver of learning? Now THAT'S a fascinating question.