So many adults are afraid of failure, myself included, but is it really that scary? What is it about failure that we are so afraid of? Is it that we think we will look silly or stupid? Do we have a need to be good at everything? Is it all tied in with our insecurities? Whatever the reason, the fear of failure is often present in our daily lives.
There are so many quotes about failure, including the following.
- I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying – Michael Jordan.
- My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure – Abraham Lincoln.
- Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement – C.S. Lewis.
- If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative – Woody Allen.
- Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street – Zig Ziglar.
- If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- Achievement is not always success, while reputed failure often is. It is honest endeavour, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances – Orison Swett Marden.
- Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again – Richard Branson.
Too often I see students who are so afraid of failing, whether that be getting an answer wrong in Mathematics or missing the soccer ball during sport, that they just don’t try to begin with. Inspired by the above quotes, I think it is really important that we let our students know that it is okay to fail. In fact, failure is a good thing and, dare I say, it’s actually fun to fail (Gretchen Rubin, 2011).
Teachers need to ensure that their students know that they don’t need to be good at everything and not only is failure a part of life, but it is an essential part of life. Put posters up around the classroom and refer back to them when you notice a student feeling afraid of failure, let your students know that you believe in them, share your mistakes and what you learnt from them, praise students for trying and giving something a go – no matter the end result, and work with students to help them learn from their mistakes.
How do you accept and/or embrace failure?
How do you encourage your students to accept failure?