Class of Failures

To pass the class you must fail.

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The class revolves around a simple problem such as how to create a better mousetrap. The goal is to fail at solving the problem. The more failures a student has, the better grade the student will get. The failures should get more spectacular and grandiose as the class progresses.  This class needs to be followed up with a dissection class that will look at all the failures to learn what students can about failing to solve a problem. 


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Photo of Niranjan

Annie, that is very profound yet simple idea. Can you elaborate on what some of the follow questions may be. Have you done this in a classroom setting or elsewhere? What was the experience like? What might be some of the challenges. How can teachers set up the class?

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I haven't had a chance to try this class yet, it's just been living in my head for a while, percolating. I would imagine the follow up questions would be along the lines of: "What did you discover about solving the problem? Do you think anything you've done could be applied in another setting (solve another problem)?" etc. In my mind, the class would be separated into groups of up to 7 and given instruction, tools, and materials for brainstorming and prototyping their ideas. I'd imagine this could carry over 3 or 4 class periods, depending on the problem, at least 1 more class period for the Presentation of Failures, and then a final class discussing what they've learned by failing. This could be a terribly fun class to be in. I'd love to hear how you would envision it, and if you try it, please let me know!

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I like where you are going with this and your questions are spot on. I like that you also think about follow up with feedback.

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordon.

Just one more reason - why what you are saying is needed. It is not just to solve a problem, but also to get better at it. A little something I have posted myself on the same lines may give you some examples on what I am thinking - It is no different. Let us keep the discussion going and further improve upon this.