Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Failure can be a good thing

 Failure can be a good thing

People often try to avoid failure.  But it can be a very good thing.   After all we don’t learn very much when we succeed but when we fail, we learn a lot.

Distance learning can avoid failure.  After all parents can be sitting right there to make sure that the student does not fail at all.   If necessary, parents will do the work for the child.  Not good.

Failure teaches us where we need to improve.  Failure shows us how we can do better.   Failure can be the final straw to push us towards a better path for our future.   Failure can teach us a great deal about ourselves.  It can teach us not just what we have done wrong but it can teach us what we have no interest in learning.  Children need to fail in school.  And then to push forward to succeed.

But children need to fail safely because too much failure can beat us down and make us think that we can never learn or that we are stupid. Failure needs to be close enough to victory that we will try again OR far enough away from victory that we chose another path.

Distance learning again separates the haves from the have nots.    Some students have lots of parental support.   Perhaps even too much support.  Parents are visible in the virtual classroom hovering behind the student.  Parents make comments about how they are “working together” with their child to ensure the child gets the work correct.  These kids do not succeed at learning but they get very good at learned helplessness so that the parent takes over and does the job for the student.   Children are learning the wrong skills.

Other kids get no help at all.  Parents are not available to help for a variety of reasons, other children, job responsibilities or even lacking the necessary skills.   Those students may well be overwhelmed by the distance learning tasks and may feel that success is just too far away and they cannot reach it.

The greatest failure of all, is the learning lost to all of our children during this time.   The lost learning will not be regained.  The kids who have not learned to read will be years catching up if at all.   The students who have suffered great social emotional damage are going to need a great deal of counseling to overcome what has been lost.  In urban and rural areas thousands of students have dropped out of school just by attrition without any formal process.  They will not be back and their futures will be forever impacted.  What gifts could they have given to our society that we will never see.

Failure can be a very good thing.  It can teach us about ourselves.  It can inspire us to greater heights and it can beat us down.  Like Goldilocks, we need to have the porridge just right.


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