Why Failing Is Good — And how to encourage it in higher education
Even though we should know better, failing is still looked down upon. This needs to change. Especially in higher education.
There is a myth about failing
There is a myth about failing: that failing is bad. But it’s not. In fact, it can be a good thing.
When we fail, we learn and grow. We may also be motivated to try something new or different next time around. Failure can help you develop resilience and perseverance — and those are skills that are essential in the workplace and beyond.
The stigma of failing in Higher Education
Failing is a bad word in our society. It’s seen as negative, shameful, and something to be avoided at all costs. But failing can also be a good thing — especially in higher education!
Why? Failure is part of life’s learning process. Failing gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes so that next time around you’ll do better or know how not to make the same mistake in the first place. It’s through trial and error that we grow into better people and become successful at what we do — so why should it stop once we’ve graduated college?
We need to stop stigmatizing failure in higher education because failing can lead us down new paths that could change our lives forever if we let them (which will ultimately make us happier).
Failing is good and it shouldn’t be seen as something to be ashamed of
Let’s get one thing straight: failing is good.
Failing can be a great learning experience for both students and educators, and it shouldn’t be seen as something to be ashamed of. In fact, we should encourage it!
If you want your students to come up with innovative solutions or if you want them to take risks in their learning and career choices, then they need to know that failing is okay — actually, it’s even more than okay — it’s necessary!
It’s time to change the culture around failing in higher education.
Let me say that one more time: It’s time to change the culture around failing in higher education.
It’s important for students to know that failing is not just a process, it is also a positive outcome. It isn’t a negative experience if you learn from it; in fact, it can be incredibly helpful. We should be teaching students how to fail and then build from there.
It is important that students understand that failure helps people to grow, learn and find new opportunities. People learn more when they focus on success, so don’t be happy or congratulate yourself; instead, focus on what can go better next time. For students, failure tends to hold them back and can discourage them from following their dreams or breaking new ground and trying multiple times.
Failures happen, and the most important thing about these events is that the review inspires deep reflection, so whether you are talking about success or failure, both are important.
How higher education can embrace failing
If you’re a teacher, encourage your students to embrace failure and be transparent about it. In order to do this, you’ll need to challenge the idea that failure is shameful. Encourage your students to talk about their failures, and what they can learn from them. Teach them that failing at something doesn’t make you a complete failure as a person; if anything, it makes you more human!
The inclusion of failure in class design prevents students from being afraid of the answers. Failure works because research shows that teachers and parents need to encourage students to figure out what went wrong and to try to improve it.
Students are often so afraid of failure that they neglect their studies or stop trying, in the hope that they will not feel bad if they do not try. Educators can help students overcome their fear of failure by reminding them that they can learn from failure if they experience it.
For some students, their failures tend to linger and create a negative attitude that impedes their learning. It is important to encourage students to learn from their mistakes and to see them as opportunities for improvement. Due to lessons learned, setbacks and failures can often be catalysts for future success.
This is called productive failure, a process that encourages collaboration and deep, long-term learning. It teaches students to stand on their own two feet, to solve problems and to find solutions that they would not otherwise have been able to achieve.
While educators must ensure that students have the right content and the right support to avoid chronic failure, it is also important to accept mistakes as an inevitable part of education. Flexibility to persevere, and the willingness to fail head on, are fundamental to long-term student success.
One of the best ways to help students recognize their mistakes is to teach them a growth mentality. Students with aspirations for growth tend to view their mistakes as a valuable part of the learning process, not something for which they should be ashamed.
Learning is the result of mistakes, mistakes, experiments and explorations. We should encourage students to learn from the constant stream of small problems and successes that result from doing the things that everyone is talking about.
We know from our own life experiences as teachers and administrators that learning from failure can lead to an excellent GPA. A growing body of research literature reminds us that it can lead our students to develop resilience and problem-solving skills that are indispensable to the life.
This encourages students to remember that what matters is improvement, and to do their best even though they did not do it right the first time. To lift the intellectual baggage that hinders learning, we must address failure directly, encouraging students to accept failure as a natural part of education. By helping students redefine “mistakes,” we teach them valuable lessons about improvement and learning.
Students should learn to receive feedback and use it to improve to help students achieve the kind of gains they need to master skills and leadership. Such failures are not only achieved, but students are able to become close friends throughout high school and college.
It is important that pupils realise that they should not see themselves as competing with their peers when it comes to exam results or assignments. In this sense, competition is good, but it can be difficult to draw a line.
Angela Lee Duckworth, developmental psychologist and associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that grit is a personality trait, but it is also a character trait that can be learned over time when students see the relationship between practice and failure not only as an end result, but as a fruitful endeavor.
Just when we fail we can improve. To err is human — and to recognize, allow, and embrace it is not only necessary but one of the most important changes higher education needs to make!