Monday, June 11, 2012

A New Way of Thinking

I have been catching up on a lot of things now that scheduled school days are past.  One of the things on my list is this very neglected blog. I have a whole stack of blog ideas  - but they never seem to move from the idea stage.

I've been thinking and wondering why that is. What is it that keeps me from blogging?

What I have discovered is it's not the expected answer - TIME.  The truth is I have time for what I want to have time for.  And yes I ended that sentence with a preposition and am beginning this one with a conjunction - it's Summer! :)

No - what really freezes me out of this blog is the fear of saying something that will make me look stupid, of making a comment that someone else will disagree with, or showing my ignorance - in a word it's a fear of failure.

Good grief!  The most ridiculous part of that premise is that someone is reading this blog - and we have't really established that yet. 

And - well it's just an excuse I would not accept from my 4th graders. But, as I attempt to put my thoughts on the internet for my peers I realize the vulnerability my students felt.  It's a scary endeavor.  We are always one step away from the chance of total failure buried somewhere inside this task.

I have been reading different blogs recently - trying out some new ones, and I came across a 17 year old New York student, Nikhil Goyal,  who is really shaking things up. He is a published author, conference speaker and thinker on school reform.  One of his posts focused on failure...

Here’s a radical thought: Let’s make ‘F’ the new ‘A.’ Failure early, fail often. For instance, Thomas Edison performed 9,000 experiments before coming up with a successful version of the light bulb. From cardboard and duct tape to ABS polycarbonate, 15 years and 5,127 prototypes later, Sir James Dyson created his successful bagless vacuum cleaner. Compare entrepreneurship to the J-curve of returns: the failures come early and often and the successes take time.
Schools, on the other hand, paint failure in a terrible light. The poster ‘Failure is Not An Option’ is plastered on walls of brick and mortar classrooms far and wide. Kids crack under the pressure to be perfect all the time. Get that ‘A’ in science class or else you won’t be successful in life. It is simply ludicrous.
We are creating grade-obsessed students to “do school” — memorize enough information to perform well on a test, regurgitate, and then forget. 

What if we incorporated this idea into our classrooms...failure is part of life
we demonstrate it
we acknowledge it
we accept it

Could we do that, as teachers?

I think that is what paralyzes too many of us from incorporating technology into our classrooms. We are so afraid of failing and looking stupid that we can't bring ourselves to try - unless we have perfectly orchestrated the situation.  Maybe we need to turn that on it's head and create learning opportunities for our students - demonstrate how to deal with failure and move on to a new solution.

Just a thought!!


Nikhil Goyal said...

Thanks for posting!


Ms. Bridge said...

So true Beth! My last batch of students were truly of the mindset that failure is not an option and we petrified of it. But when it's so engrained in them, and you have a student with eyes full of tears just because of the idea of failure, not that they are actually failing, but because they did not reach perfection, what are the right words to say?

Ms. Bridge said...

So true Beth!
But I can't help but think of my last batch of students who were truly of the mindset that failure is not an option. They were so fearful of failure. Many times throughout the year I had students with tears in their eyes from the fear of failure in their mind. They saw a B as failure. I was at a loss for words in this situation.
As a school, what can we do to help students not be afraid of failure when they are so engrained and trained this way.

Beth Swantz said...

It seems to me as long as high stakes testing is part of students' lives - there is no way to change this philosophy...too much is always at stake!