I recently came across an article shared on our module Facebook page. The article was titled “Prepare students ‘to fail’ so they can learn”. Pretty straight forward one would think and I would agree with that statement because it was something that I was not taught at school and had to teach myself. Coming from a country were the culture does not allow failure it was at times extremely challenging to comprehend or to even justify the slightest mistake.
Truthfully, my response to the article was that I loved it! I truly found it is satisfying that some people actually went ahead and conducted a study as opposed to “it” just being a myth. I could not agree more with what they were saying taking a punch so hard that you do not even have time to wonder how and where it came from but the process as a whole will help students “become more creative and resilient”. I wish I was told “you’re going to fail with this, you’re going to struggle, you’re not going to understand it in full, but try it”. Now I wonder whether it is either our parents or our teachers’ responsibility to teach us that failing should be celebrated and not condemned. This semester with Design Thinking, knowing in advance it was not going to be an easy road and being told that we might find some bumps along the way but we’ll eventually see the silver lining was comforting. Especially, during those times where we thought we could not pull off our project in time for the Dragon’s Den.
Well would you say that “productive failure” is a paradox? I remember when my team had to conduct our very first survey regarding the first idea we were considering for Design Thinking, hearing “no” was a bit shocking at first for myself surprisingly. I thought I had mentally prepared enough to receive criticism. Then I remember all of our lecturers constantly saying “remember their (the customers) opinions mater the most, not yours!”. It took me that sentence and a few “NOs” to start to comprehend that the idea was not a failure but there were details we perhaps had left out and not everyone will share our vision. Then again there are many factors such as how convincing were we? Or did they really relate to the problem we were trying to solve? Did we speak to the right people? Is there such thing as “the right people to speak to?” I am confident enough today to say that at times it will be hard to accept failure but at least I know it is for the better.
Should we aspire to fail?
The article is available at the following address: