Learning to Fail

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

J.K. Rowling

Dear Parents

Last week Kathleen (MYP Coordinator), Emine (PYP Coordinator) and I had the great privilege to attend a presentation by Lance King, an educator who has done a lot of work focusing on student success. I walked away from the presentation asking myself, as the principal of the school, how does ISBerne teach students to fail well?

Through his extensive research, Lance King found that:

  • Students who fail well do better, much better, than students who fail badly.
  • Teachers who fail well do better.
  • Parents who fail well do better.

He goes on to suggest that the key to failing well seems to be in the reprocessing of failure.
He suggests the following steps:

  1. Get over your emotional attachment to the word failure. Failure is just feedback. Feedback on what you aren’t doing right yet
  2. Second, admit every failure – immediately. Remember that the definition of failure is simply not reaching a goal
  3. Take responsibility for your actions in not achieving that goal
  4. Make changes
  5. Have another go

To help with this, both teachers and parents need to reframe the word ‘failure’ in order to help children understand that failure is a necessary part of growth and learning, and there are two distinctly different ways to fail.

From now on, as a life-long learner, I am going to try to recognize that every task, every goal, every performance has not two but three possible outcomes; Success, Failing Well and Failing Badly, and that two of those are positive. I am also keen to explore this idea with Richard and our Senior Education team. My challenge to our ISBerne parents is to see how this approach might (or does already!) look for them!

Kind regards

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