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Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I sometimes wonder where we

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I sometimes wonder where we lost the concept of making mistakes as being vital to the learning process and this "win at all costs" /participation trophy attitude that seems pervasive. It's rather perverse. We want kids to compete for grades and take high stakes tests, but then we tell them they are all perfect and wonderful- glossing over the core issue is that learning is messy and requires risk taking and mistakes to happen.

We have to encourage risk taking, which may lead to failure, but we also have to make it a safe environment to take risks, knowing that we learn as much from stuff that didn't make the cut, as long as we make sure the evaluation/reflection/analysis portion is key and central.

We had a great meeting at our school yesterday, talking about blended learning, and how simple things like Quia testing allows teachers and students to get immediate feedback about what they have and have not mastered, so lessons can be changed on the fly, tweeked, reworked, and the like- all with data so teachers can also look for bigger patterns and help identify strengths and weaknesses in student skill sets and then target those specific needs.
What's important here is using assessments as diagnostic rather than merely evaluatory or punitive. If we look at education as more of a skill building process and less of a competitive race, the greater chance we have for success of all students. We can make sure that the kids who acquire knowledge quickly can keep moving forward, while kids who need more support get that as well. Teachers likewise can get more instant feedback on how well they are doing with this particular set of kids- something we all need more frequently than the once a year standardized testing regime.
I think if we can begin to look at "measurement' of progress as being diagnostic, we can get away from the fear of failure and start to look at everything as more of a stepping stone to better skills and results over time. As much as I know we've trained kids, parents, colleges, teachers- everyone- to look for grades, rankings and comparisons, in the long run, we're all better served by helping to build and develop better human beings, and hopefully ones more tolerant of each others imperfections.
Failure should be embraced, as long as its tied to the key analysis and reflection- because thats where the heart of the elarning lies.

Mother, Educator, Chemist, Founder of Academics in a Box Inc

Ainissa, We are noticing

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Ainissa, We are noticing parents/children overwhelmed while experiencing an engineering design challenge for the first time. Communicating STEM, and failure is essential. So, we've done our own "Redesign" to better communicate and reward the failures which happen along the way. #3 will now be a staple throughout our lab notebook moving forward which will look something like this (an excerpt from TEST IT! "Fly with Me!" - Aviation)

TEST IT!
If it didn't work (AWESOME!) or you have even BETTER ideas (GREAT!)….TRY AGAIN! OBSERVE and RECORD DATA. Remember the Wright Brothers didn't just get up one day and say to each other: “Hey, lets go down to Kitty Hawk and fly this airplane we built last night.” It took them years of tinkering with kites, bicycles, parachutes, and all kinds of mechanical and aerodynamic devices. So don’t get frustrated STEMists, keep trying, investigating, and figuring things out. Remember you have to “TINKER” to become a great “THINKER.”

1. Set up and LAUNCH!

2. Did it work?

3. How did I fail?

4. What should I change?

5. What should I keep the same?

6. What did I learn?

K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey

Anissa, I love how you say

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Anissa, I love how you say "If children have to learn about failure, I would choose a setting where the stakes are not so high, and that would be with STEM." That is exactly my sense as well, and since I am our school's elementary STEM teacher, I get the privilege!

We have a saying in my classroom - "failure is not an option - it's a *requirement*!"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29304822@N00/8063226488/in/photolist-dhw9jm...

My classroom and lessons are the ideal place for failure. We are not a high-stakes tested subject. I tell parents all the time that my class is the only one in school where failure is celebrated. Some look at me a little funny until they 'get it.' But eventually they all do. Failure is central to my instructional strategy!

Great post and conversation!

-kj-

Mother, Educator, Chemist, Founder of Academics in a Box Inc

Great blog for our kids, big

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Great blog for our kids, big & small! We definitely learn the most from our mistakes.

STEM education incorporates a safe place to try and try again because the expectation is for failure to occur. If our children are not making mistakes then something is going wrong. Experimentation is never squeaky clean, but messy and chaotic. It’s from this chaos that creative ideas our born.

Lower School Art Teacher (K-4)

Thank you Ainissa for your

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Thank you Ainissa for your thoughtful post! While I understand and appreciate a popular saying embraced by many art teachers, "There are no mess-ups in art," I teach my elementary school-age student artists that yes, in art, and in life, there are "mess-ups" or mistakes; it's how we deal with, and learn from our initial mistakes that helps us to grow...

Science Evangelist

If we called failure 'data,'

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If we called failure 'data,' it would lose some of its sting and people might be more willing to try new things.

Science Evangelist

Imagine how we would all live

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Imagine how we would all live if we did not fear failure. It might be a better world.

Science Evangelist

Thanks. This is just a

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Thanks. This is just a lesson from someone who has learned the value of failure. It is freeing to not fear it.

Excellent article. One of my

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Excellent article. One of my kid's teachers has discussed this very thing with her students. She recommended abugfreemindreviews.com . I found the program very helpful in getting adults (young and old) to deal with fear of failure

Secondary Education Teacher | English Language Arts | San Diego, CA.

This is brilliant & so

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This is brilliant & so necessary in today's schools. Thank you for your insight!

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