…in your classroom. Now that I’ve got your attention, the ‘F’ word I’m referring to is ‘Fail’. I know some parents and educators who don’t like to use that word. It has a negative vibe to it, according to them. They prefer other words, such as mistake. Someone told me you can fix mistakes, so that’s why they preferred that term.
You can’t fix failure? I have to disagree with that.
I’m not one for PC, feel good words. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, sticks and stones, etc. I think we tiptoe too much around people’s feelings. Heaven forbid someone have to think about what they are doing based on someone else’s description of it. I’m not for making people afraid of words. Are there certain words that are inappropriate? Sure, but I’m not talking about vulgar language. I’m talking about everyday words, some of which are now facing criticism because it may hurt someone’s feelings. Please, spare me.
But back to the ‘F’ word, fail. I use this word in my classroom, especially when talking about science. We talk in my class about how scientists and engineers do experiments and make designs that fail all the time. They are usually wrong more than they are right. But scientists and engineers learn from those failures or mistakes, make adjustments, and try again.
They don’t quit. They persevere. They may hit a wall and/or table what they are working on for the time being, but it’s always working in the back of their mind what they can do to make that failure a success.
Failures occur in all occupations and parts of life. Will you let that failure mark the end and be what you and possibly others remember? Or do you push forward, learn from the failure, and make it into a success? Which of these do we want to teach our students? The latter, of course.
So why then fear the word ‘failure’?
Isn’t that what we should be teaching our students? Not to fear a word like failure, but to embrace it as a challenge. How they can fix their failure and learn from it. How sometimes it takes a lot of practice to get something right, to learn a new skill or concept. Thinking of the 10,000 hour rule may give students insight into knowing that not everyone is born with a talent or skill, and if you want something bad enough, you have to work hard towards it.
So don’t be afraid to use the word ‘fail’ with your students. Give them perspective on what the word means, and how they can use the ‘F’ word to push themselves to greatness.