Failure is not an outcome. It is a choice to not try again. In order to support our students in becoming lifelong, synthetic learners we must practice the language and attitudes of Growth Mindset and effective encouragement. But to get there, we must help kids understand what failure really is: opportunities to learn something new.

Today we examine the importance of failure in learning, and we need to start with ourselves. Do we really see failure as an opportunity? If not, we need to reorient ourselves first, because we cannot honestly lead others in a direction that we do not accept in ourselves.

Lessons Learned

Dennis – You know what happens when you assume.

Chris Carter – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison Talk about a growth mindset! Imagine if Edison had a fixed mindset. I wonder how many would-be Edisons are out there, stuck in a fixed mindset?

Notes & Links

Why Making Mistakes is What Makes Us Human

“[Kathryn Schultz] contends that to truly rediscover the wonder of this world, we need to step outside the “tiny, terrifying space of rightness” and admit we might be wrong. Because once we can do that, we can see the whole big universe of information out there that we don’t know.”

Overcoming the Fear of Being Wrong: 20 Ways to Help Your Students

  1. Always respond to an answer with more than “No.” The best teachers explain why a student’s answer isn’t right, rather than simply telling them it isn’t.
  2. Acknowledge students’ thought processes, not just their answers. Answers don’t appear in mid-air. They are arrived at after some thought has been put into a question. Helping a student understand—and correct—his own thought process can be far more beneficial than correcting the answer itself.
  3. Stop treating being wrong like an anomaly. Think about this for a moment: Are we correct more often than we are incorrect? We don’t beat ourselves up for all the things we don’t know (which is a lot), so why should we punish ourselves for being “wrong”? It’s as much a part of our natural state of being as being “right.”
  4. Adopt an “abundance mentality.” One failure does not mean ultimate failure. There will be many more chances to come.
  5. The most intelligent people TRY to be wrong on purpose. They’re called scientists.

9 Common Negative Thoughts that Students Think & How to Cure Them

8 Ways Smart People Use Failure to Their Advantage


Model Failure – Talk through your thinking process to help kids learn how to react and think through their own failures and turn them into learning experiences.

Coding & the Design Cycle: Imagine, Plan, create, test, improve

“If failure is not an option, then neither is success” – Seth Godin

Groucho Marx Quote: