This post originally appeared here in Superintendent Jamie Cruikshank's blog for anyone interested in PK-12 education called, "Cruikshank's View."
The Value of Failure
The idea of failure being a positive experience for children and their development is nothing new. There have been volumes written on the topic. Yet, when I was recently asked about my own failures, I froze. Please don’t be mistaken; I’ve had countless “failures” and an equal number of set-backs. My inability to answer and to clearly state a failure surprised me. It was at this point that I authentically understood the value of failure.
Recently, I read an article by Jessica Lahey, entitled "Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail." The premise of this article supported exactly what the title indicated and I believe that few educators would disagree. Lahey’s assertion perpetuated some lively discussion among several others whom also read the piece.
Learning from Loss
Failure, in and of itself, is not what we aspire to do. Reflection of such experiences is the key to unlocking meaningful life’s lessons, internalizing new found realizations and moving on. Only then is failure valuable. Our disappointments enable our need for reflection. True reflection leads to improvement and the potential for success. As I once explained to my soccer teams, “We can learn more from a loss than a win.”
Failure Framed as Opportunities for Growth
Personally and professionally I’ve provided myself quite a number of opportunities to fail. However, I believe I have had very few meaningless failures because I reflected, changed, and moved forward. My so-called failures became opportunities. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon in one form or another. In relation to our classrooms, our task is to provide opportunities for children to learn how to be successful at failing. We must see the opportunities in each child as they struggle and teach the process of reflection.
Jamie Cruikshank is the Superintendent of Norwood-Norfolk CSD, and the Regional Director for NYS Middle School Association. Jamie is a busy husband and father of three. He runs his own blog, "Cruikshank's View," which can be found here.