In sports failure is seen as a normal occurrence, especially when you are just starting to learn a concept. Players are encouraged to repeat and practice until they are able to master what they are working toward. If a player fails to show mastery of this concept during a game (arguably a sport’s version of a test) a discussion about the failure occurs. They are then, generally, given guidance on how to improve upon this facet in the future. This failure is seen as a growing process and not as something that will reflect upon them for the rest of the season. The classroom is a very different place than a sports field, but these are very different perceptions about failure coming from two experiences that require learning.
The practicality of this idea does come into question however, how do we encourage students to succeed if they do not fear failure? Perhaps assignments based upon mastery of a topic instead of a single test could come into play. By mastery I mean assessments that show a student’s understanding while allowing students to edit and repeat until they master the topic. One draw back of this would be the time and effort both teacher and student would have to commit to this model. For example, if a student is still working on reviewing their last unit paper how will they have time to work on and complete the current unit’s assignments? The student would have to be committed to repeating and practicing until they reached their desired outcome. A balance may be able to be struck but it is not an easy concept to put into practice in many ways.
As an educator I want my students to learn and succeed and this often requires them to fail. They must grapple and struggle with concepts until they understand them. I will be there every step of the way to offer guidance and encouragement but the learning is their own. How can we assess what students know, cover the required material and encourage students to not fear failure? This is certainly a question that I will think about in the future.
Sivers, D. (Director). (2011). Why You Need to Fail [Motion picture]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhxcFGuKOys