As I was watch my young daughters grow up, I notice that as they get older they are beginning to gain the fear of failure. My oldest has just started kindergarten this year. Learning to spell, write your letters, and add can be very frustrating. There are times when her eraser is running out, she has drawn the letter S five times, and she still can't get it facing in the right direction, she starts to give up. This is when I begin to hurt as a dad. I want to do it for her, I want to take the pain of failure away from her. I have to take a step back, with my daughter, and take a breath. We look at why she is having such a hard time, and try one more time. She finally gets the curvy S correct. She is so excited! She gets up, does a happy dance, and writes three more correct "S"s afterward. Without that initial struggle the victory would not be a a sweet. Without the effort, without the struggle, without the initial failure, she wouldn't have learned.
That is the key idea. Failure is okay, as long as you learn from it. Not only learn from the failure, but try again. Be excited for your accomplishments. Take time to celebrate, even the small victories.
I am an avid gamer. I don't get a chance to play as much as I used to. When I was in high school and college, I loved to pass the time on strategy and RPG games. I would bore on those games that were to easy. There was no challenge, no reason for me to work, no self-created mission. It was the games that I would fail at, that I enjoyed the most. I knew that if I didn't beat the level, or vanquish the evil then there was a better way. I would learn from each attempt, and adjust my plan and strategy. I see this is the strongest proponent of the gamification movement in education. Gamification is where teachers turn their classroom or lessons into a game. Where students are able to attempt levels (assignments and quizzes) as many times as they want. They do not attempt to defeat the boss(tests) until they are ready. If a student knows that there is a safety net when they fail, then they are more likely to try. Students a still held accountable for their learning and progress, but failure is okay as long as they learn from it. Dave Guymon wrote a book entitled It Doesn't Count, If You Can't Fail. I think that should be the mantra of anything you do. Without failure, how can you measure success? How can there be a celebration, if there was never a fear of not completing the task? Will that celebration even mean anything?
So I say Failure IS An Option ... Just Learn From It. Think to all your proudest moments. All the times when hardwork made the success even more more sweet. So maybe unfortunate signs of this nature have a place, but with a little modification. Either add a secondary clause to the sign of leaning from your failures, or change the sign to "No Effort is NOT an option". What do y'all think? Am I am far off base with this thought or reasoning. Or is this something that you feel passionate about as well? Please leave me a comment or a tweet.
A little bonus thoughts on all this can be found from this rough recording.
I hope you enjoy.