Fail Better: Tough Luck - Tough Love - Cruel to be Kind
Written as part of the purpos/ed series and published in the TES in April 2011:
I think the purpose of education is to teach children how to fail.
To drive them to failure and then see what happens.
"If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sure sign that you’re not trying anything very innovative." - Woody Allen
We know that we're entering a new economic reality that is more challenging and less certain.
We know that Moore's Law and "digital Taylorism" present a credible threat to the employment prospects of our students.
And we know that students need to be more imaginative and more creative if they are to overcome these hurdles.
"It takes sixty-five thousand errors before you are qualified to make a rocket." - Werhner von Braun
We know that people who have it all just aren't happy.
We know that those with nothing to lose have everything to gain.
And we know that when you're behind in the race, and the odds are stacked against you, you dig deeper and you reach higher.
"Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill
We know that the tired, the poor, the huddled masses fight to breathe free.
We know that those with their backs to the wall, fight harder.
And yet. And yet.
We're too nice to children. We used not to be. Not to Tom Brown. Not to Oliver Twist.
Education has become progressively gentler - in a manner that has not always been helpful.
Children have moved from fear, to security, to dependency; one step too far...
Too dependent on adults; on teachers; on parents; on technology; on frameworks; on specifications...
So I think we need to find new ways for children to fail.
We need to step back; let go a little; be less helpful.
Of course, our students won't always like this approach. But I suspect that they'll learn a lot more.
And, with a bit of luck, they'll learn how to succeed.
"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Becket
PS: See also: Fail faster - by Aza Raskin