Saturday, August 13, 2016

Don't Celebrate My Failures! Please Don't!

Educators please stop saying that we celebrate failure.  It is condescending and quite frankly a little annoying.  If you came up to me after I failed or am struggling with something, smile and say, "This means you are learning and growing..." I may want to grab you and shake you.  Failure does not equal success.  There is no correlation.  Failure often leads to quitting, giving up, and not trying again.  There is NO one to one correlation between failures and successes.

I get it, we all know that in order to be successful at something you will need multiple attempts, you will need your thoughts questioned, and you may have to try over again.  I was on the bandwagon of struggle, I still am, I think it is important for our students to feel this struggle in a supportive environment.  It builds academic resiliency, academic persistence, and academic stamina, all are super important.  But I am moving away from calling out the idea of struggle or failure as a good thing.

Just to be clear:

Necessary = Yes
Positive = No

Failing or struggling should = Angry and if it can be used to motivate, even better!

So I am not celebrating this failure idea!  It is more a realization and acceptance like in the summer I wear shorts and t-shirts because it is hot outside.  Do we even need to give it as much attention as we do?  This quote, that quote, this talk, that talk... I don't announce every summer day, "I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt today!"  That would be ridiculous, just like I think yelling, "We fail to succeed..."  "You need to fail to move forward..."  etc.

If just failing were the answer, I would sign up for a "world's strongest man" competition next week. Maybe I should try and free climb Half Dome in Yosemite with no free climbing experience?  I really should enter that Bike to the Beach race with my son's first bike with training wheels.  I would certainly fail at all of these!

Accept that failure or struggle is part of process and to me failure is just not trying, but whatever...  Acceptance is not celebration, and should not be confused.  I accept that each day has 24 hours, but I celebrate when I am able to get through my To Do list in that amount of time.  I accept that I am getting older physically and celebrate when I have a good work out.  I accept that not every day at school is going to be perfect and celebrate when I see students and staff working hard.

So acceptance is realization, celebration is reserved for actually accomplishing something positive.

Failure is not positive, necessary yes, positive no.  Super easy equation.  Please don't mix them, it makes successes seem trivial.

Do no celebrate my failures!  Get angry with me!  Question me!  You can even yell at me!  Please, Please, Please do not celebrate them!

Also don't expect a failure all the time.  If I or someone else is successful the first time, more power to them!  That you can celebrate!

1 comment:

  1. I whole heartedly agree with you, Doug. We have to let our students feel distress and discomfort when they make mistakes. Let's stop celebrating this notion that the only way we can grow is to fail. When seeds fail to grow, you can't replant them somewhere else and get it to germinate.