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We need more failure (or at least, willingness to accept it)

Fear of failure is the greatest limitation to learning. Last year, Stephen Yurkiw published an article on elearnspace titled: Learning With Confidence: Encouraging Risk and Failure in Learning. I’m currently taking a series of online courses that bring to light the wisdom of embracing the prospect of failure during the learning process. If we value ourselves by ability, we most often create comforable environments for ourselves. If we value ourselves by effort we are more likely to try new things (and learning is all about trying new things).

Why is failure so important?

  • It highlights knowledge deficiency
  • It clarifies the known from the unknown
  • It promotes deeper learning
  • It informs the teacher on areas to revisit/repackage

Why are institutions/people so antagonistic towards failure?

  • Failure is viewed as a antithetical to learning
  • , not as a stage in learning

  • Learning/knowing is not perceived as a process…but as an event
  • Rigid organizational culture limits experimentation/innovation, resulting in low tolerance for failure
  • Poor corporate communication lines that are more attuned to “things going wrong” that “things that are promising”
  • General fear of innovation (see my article: Innovation: The challenge of continual newness)

What does it mean to designers?

  • Build in activities at the start of the course/learning process that result in early learner success
  • Scaffold learning…connect it…build it on top of other ideas…move from simple to complex
  • Encourage experimentation…explicitly state the value of learners exploring topics beyond course content.
  • Acknowledge effort…but still measure against competency

One Comment

  1. Dale Emery wrote:

    You may be interested in a related blog entry I wrote in June, called “The Benefits of Failure.”

    Friday, September 26, 2003 at 10:31 pm | Permalink