By Melissa Elliott
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
I learn best when I fail!! I said this to my students and they all looked at me like I was nuts. One student told me, “if you failed, you DIDN’T learn anything!” Learning from failure is not a concept that many of our students understand. They measure success on a grade. “If I get an A, I know the material!” When in fact, many of us can learn a great deal from our failures
An article came through my email a couple of weeks ago on the importance of failure. The title of the article is: The Importance of Failure: 5 Valuable Lessons from Failing. As I read through this article I recognize so many times we ignore the lessons we can learn through failure. The five valuable lessons are:
1. Experience – How many of us walk away from a failure and think, “wow, what a great experience”? The article explains that “alters our frame of mind” and makes put things into a proper perspective. When a student fails an exam, many of them think (rather realistically or perceived) that it’s the end of the line. They cannot succeed in your class and therefore they don’t try. They don’t take the time to “experience failure”. They don’t look and say, “ok, what do I need to change to make my next attempt better?” Making changes, using my experience in failure will “[improve my future self]”
2. Knowledge – For every failure we gain knowledge. This knowledge shows us what NOT to do the next time. Accumulated knowledge gained from failure eventually leads to success.
3. Resilience – When we fail we begin to produce resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become, much like the well-worn callas built up from many years of use. Resilience helps us but ourselves in the best position to succeed. Through resilience we can recognize that any success worth having is not going to happen quickly, no more “overnight” success.
4. Growth – Growth allows for improvement. Growth allows us to mature and reflect on the things that are important. The growth produced through failure bring a better understanding of who we are and why we are on this planet.
5. Value – Failure allows us to assess value to our experiences. If we value who we are and what we are doing our success will follow. We need to show our students how to value the experiences of failure. When they can put a value to those times of failure they can put value to success.
So if I could go back to that student that told me that if I failed I hadn’t learned anything, I would have to say, “on the contrary I had learned more than you know!”