Failure can be very unproductive. It can stem from a lack of effort, resources, support, knowledge, and reflection. Failure can also be an amazing tool for learning, and perhaps one that every student should experience before graduation. Stephen Whiffin, who conceptualized the Inquiry Hub, suggested that every student should have ‘My Epic Failure’ as part of their high school portfolio.
Every student should try something audaciously big, and meaningful beyond the classroom walls. Even if they fail, they will have a tremendous learning experience in the process. Besides, we owe it to students to show them what it takes to overcome the failures they face.
Think of this: If students (regardless of skills and abilities) have only ever met success, and accomplished every task, assignment and project they have needed to do for school, then they weren’t pushed hard enough. In this case, it is the program that is the failure, because the students were not challenged as much as they should have been.
The learning potential of failure is significant. If the work is meaningful enough, there can be more learned from an epic failure, than a marginal success, where the measure for success was set too low.