FAIL. It’s a word that among most of the population has a very negative connotation. People get defensive when the word is used, and often, rightfully so.
Now, there is a movement about FAIL. Many say that FAIL stands for First Attempt in Learning. I take issue with this in some ways.
I take issue not because I disagree with the statement, but I disagree with the way some people seem to be promoting it. Watch Twitter for a night, and you will see numerous posts along the lines of “Kids need to fail to learn.” This is where people get a mixed message.
Do kids learn from failure? Absolutely. It is a matter of what they learn that really matters. They learn either that they are not able to do something, or they learn that if they are persistent they can achieve a goal. Which lesson they learn is up to us, the educators. Ask yourself, which would you rather they learn?
Many educators seem to design lessons with the whole purpose being to force kids to fail at something so that they can learn from it. This is wrong. Think about it. You are designing something to force kids to fail at it. Should we not be designing lessons and supporting students so that they grapple with problems, and ultimately come out on top and succeed? If we are doing something to test various plans, such as an egg drop activity in science, perhaps we should call it trial and error, and not failure.
I agree that there are times when no matter how hard educators work with students, they will still fail at a task. That is when we need to be sure we have a relationship with that student where he/she doesn’t give up. We should support them in going back and trying again.
Don’t be one of those teachers who seems to take pride in how many kids fail. If the fact that people do this shocks you, look around more closely. They are there. At the same time, don’t be so easy on them that little to no effort gets them a passing grade. They learn from that as well… only they learn the lesson that mediocrity will still get you by in the world.
I follow a great group of educators on Twitter. Many are those who say that FAILure is a learning process. Be sure that if you are one saying that, you are willing to put forth the effort and time to make it a positive learning process. To those of you on various social media outlets who say this, please, take an extra minute and be sure to qualify your statements. I know it is hard to fit it in 140 characters, but if people are misinterpreting what you say, it is doing more harm than good.
Be careful how you sling words around. There are far more people listening/reading than you may think. Your words impact students around the world.