If You Don’t Fail, You Don’t Graduate - The Future of Failure

I want you to sing along with me. You know the tune...

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Now that we’ve all taken a trip back to the nap-time days of kindergarten, I want to share a story. 

There are two kindergarten students in the world right now reciting these ABCs  and singing this song. One will sing beautifully and pass. One will throw a vowel out of place and fail. Little will change and the two students will go back to playing Lincoln Logs and building castles.  

Learning still has an element of play at this age. And failure...who cares? Give me back my play-doh. MMMMMmmm, cotton candy for lunch!

Add in a few more bus rides and spelling tests and failure is no longer fun. A third grader who fails a math test at age twenty will say, “I’m not very good at math...” Even at this young age, these learning models impress upon our self-efficacy. We have these inner dialogues telling us who we are based on what we passed and what we failed. You can’t get more self-limiting than that. 

But, what if we change some things around? What if we create a learning place that focuses on failure as a good thing? What if we demand that failure be on the road to success? 

Right now, the traditional brick and mortar school system and standardized tests make failure a bad thing. A no-no. Nothing worth hanging on the refrigerator to impress mommy and daddy. 

Let’s make it backwards. Instead of having a system that makes students afraid of failure, let’s make it so students are afraid not to fail. If you don’t fail, you don’t graduate. 

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