Monday, September 9, 2019

Fail to Learn

How do we treat failure in our own learning lives? How do we talk about failure or mistakes or errors with learners in our classrooms? What is failure, really?

I don't know that I ever asked learners in my classroom to talk about failure together. When I read Andrew Miller's book Freedom to Fail this summer, his ideas around norming failure resonated with me.

Miller suggests we start early. When we're setting up classroom communities, consider having a discussion about what it means to fail. Make the discussion text based. Give students media to explore in order to form their opinions and develop their thoughts:  failure quotes, poetry, essays, videos, clips, vines, tweetbooks... other media.

Can you imagine? 

I tend to collect, so I started gathering quotes and looking for texts I could use for a text-based discussion. Miller's ideas brought Michael Jordan's I Can't Accept Not Trying immediately to mind. I wondered what else I could find?

I could see how such a discussion could help me establish learning routines and cultivate community. Miller's work has me wondering how to talk about failure in ways that make it central to learning (and not evaluation). Surely, there is an advisory lesson in here.

Each year when new faculty join the educators at Singapore American School we get a preview of their work and learn a bit about them. Our introductions to the "newbies" as many call them begins in the second semester of the year before they arrive. Andrew Miller joins Singapore American School as a Director of Personalized Learning from Shanghai American School where he most recently served as an instructional coach.  

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