Thursday, April 16, 2015

The 4 Stages of Failure

I really enjoy Justin Tarte's twitter feed as there is always a plethora of ideas and thoughts to apply to my practice.  This weekend, Justin pushed out this comparison between failure and failing, and it made me ask myself this question.

How much do we value failure as a meaningful part of the learning process? 

Well as I reflected on my own failures as a student and professional, I realized that overcoming failure is not that simple.  In fact, failure is very similar to overcoming grief or a bad habit.  You overcome it in stages.  In fact, I think there are 4 stages to overcoming failure.

When kids fail, frustration is a natural response.  Kids that see themselves as failures, never leave this phase.  When educators convince kids to see failure as a temporary event, they can overcome frustration and move to the next phase.

This concept is two-fold.  First kids must be able to acknowledge that failing is a natural part of the learning process, and second, kids must accept the fact that failure can become learning if accepted properly.

What can be learned from failing?  This question permeates the inquiry stage of failure.  If kids can stay focused on identifying the cause of failure,  they move themselves one step closer to learning from it.

Once students can identify the causes of failure, students stand firmly on a platform called "Learning from It".  Learning from failure is the pathway that starts with frustration, moving toward acceptance and asking how it was caused.  By moving through the 3 previous phases successfully, student can conquer their setbacks by converting failing into learning.

Failure is Learning in Action
Whether kids look at their grade as failing or look at themselves as a failure depends completely on how we counsel with the student.  In absence of a conversation with the teacher, kids will naturally see themselves as a failure when they see a failing grade on their report card.  The challenge for teachers and administrators alike becomes this.  How can we convince kids to see their poor performance as a temporary setback that is waiting for a comeback?  Every kid has the potential to come back when they fail.  The question we must continually ask ourselves is how do we motivate and inspire all kids to make the choice to overcome adversity when they fail.

1 comment:

  1. It's a good argument, John. I think our system of summative assessments to peg students to learning sets them up for failure; if we can keep learning standards-based and formative, we have a shot at Frustration, Acceptance, Inquiry, and Learning--the ultimate experience, really. That's life, right?