Fail in front of your students

Demonstrate something that either doesn't work or probably won't work - and have that be OK

Photo of Josh Merrow
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Failing in front of your students can create a learning opportunity. If you announce before you demonstrate whatever it is that it might not work, students will perk up. This could be a science experiment, a mathematical proof, an online marketing technique in a business class - anything that can be tested in a relatively short time. When something goes wrong, challenge your students to figure out what it was and how to improve the process. Let them be the experts for once.

How does this idea help to spark student curiosity?

Taking a risk in front of your students - the risk that your demonstration, your work, may not succeed - creates suspense in the classroom that draws students in. They aren't used to teachers (or any adults in their lives, most likely) taking risks that might result in failure. By doing so, you create an atmosphere where failure is ok. This removes a big barrier to curiosity - fear.

What grade level is this idea most appropriate for?

  • All of the above


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Photo of Ellen Deutscher

Love this idea... and love the picture too!! I so often fumble in front of my students. I think they learn from it and are sometimes empowered by helping me out and teaching me what I don't know. :)

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