It has become the F-word, and that is all wrong.
However, the concept of integrated education ties life's failures and successes together in wonderful bundles! For many of us, this fear of failure started out in school and grew into the workplace.
Now, more than ever, traditional education focuses on getting the right answer, not learning to ask the right questions.
The instructional value of our mistakes seems to be altogether forgotten! As a teacher, I often hear students preface a question with, "This might sound stupid, but...
" Students fear sounding stupid and they fear being viewed as wrong-or as a failure.
But, shouldn't it be okay to discuss ideas, and to ask questions in a classroom? Shouldn't it be okay to ask for clarity? We have to change this fear of failure and make it okay for ourselves and our children to ask questions.
It is a good thing to be curious and want to know the why's and wherefores of a concept.
We need to create a sacred space where asking questions is okay.
As an educator, in the classroom or in your own home, you have to be willing to show your vulnerability and even your lack of knowledge.
If a parent, teacher or team leader doesn't know the answer, he or she must be brave enough to say, "I don't know, but let's find out.
" Today's educational systems seem focused on passing standardized tests and attaining high GPA's.
The fear of failure often causes stress and undue anxiety.
Neither of those things enhances real learning nor makes education an exciting and fun part of life.
Neither contribute to self-esteem or success.
The irony is that children are innately risk-takers.
If there is something they can climb on, they will.
If there is a curb, they will try to balance on it.
If there is an animal coming their way, they will reach for it, or run towards it.
This is how they learn to know the world.
Trying new things out and taking risks is how they learn.
How many times did you have to fall down before you could walk? If you had been afraid of failing you would still be crawling! For many, fear of failure squelches any tendency to risk-taking and standardized testing inhibits self-confidence or gives a false sense of confidence.
Failure becomes life's biggest F-word.
Whether you are homeschooling or teaching a classroom of children, tell the great stories of failure! Thomas Edison tried thousands of different materials before he found the right one for the light bulb filament.
Failure? No, that's research and lots of it.
Or as he put it, he learned thousands of ways that didn't work, before he found the ideas that did! But, the important thing is he accepted his failures as part of the learning curve and moved forward.
To defuse the F-word mentality, we should celebrate our failures.
Think about starting an Amazing Failure Club! You and your students could report what you have learned from taking risks or from asking questions.
You could make and award merit badges or certificates that would encourage children to take a risk, ask pertinent questions and learn to do research.
Teach them to ask "How did I fail? and "What did I learn?" When you embrace integrated learning as a lifelong way of educating yourself and others, you will see all the things you are learning from your failures and your successes.
Everything becomes interconnected and your dance of life becomes a wonderful mixture of "success" and "failure.
" Each step is important to the dance as a whole.
To truly become successful, we must make failure our friend.
Failure makes you a better, kinder, stronger, wiser and more capable being.
So, get out there and fail!