The Joys of Failure

Yep, you read that title correctly. Today I’m going to write about why failure is a good thing for our students. I mentioned about a week ago that I recently read Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire and have found some great wisdom in the book. I already posted about my plans for creating a classroom economy.
Well today I want to write about failure. Now, my husband is probably going to laugh when he reads this post because I really, really, really hate to fail. I want to be perfect, all the time. always. (That’s normal, right?)

However, Mr. Esquith brings up a great point on the need to let our students fail sometimes. He refers mostly to letting them fail in the context of science, but I think that there are times in all subjects where we need to encourage our students to try out their own ideas, even if we know they won’t work.

Here are my top 5 reasons why Failure can ultimately be a Joy for our students:

1. Failure helps us learn. If you never fail, you never learn. Think about how many times you learned a valuable lesson by doing something the wrong way over and over. Eventually, when you figure it out, that victory feels that much sweeter.

2. Failure helps us think. If we just give our students the “right” way to do everything, will they be able to solve the problem? Probably. Will they understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it? Probably not. Failure before success helps us understand how and why something works.

3. Failure prepares us for the real world. Allowing our students to be wrong and make mistakes prepares them for the real world. Not everyone always gets it right and not everyone always wins. I definitely worry that not letting our students experience this now will impede them when they’re adults.

4. Failure can help us find a better way. Some of the greatest inventors and innovators of all time failed. a lot. Einstein, Walt Disney, and Thomas Edison are just a few examples. Through their failures, they grew stronger and eventually made huge impacts on society.

5. Failure isn’t that painful in a safe environment. If you allow your students to fail, but create a safe, respectful classroom environment, it will just be part of the learning process. Students need to feel like they can take risks will the knowledge that they won’t be laughed at for being wrong, rather they’ll be applauded for trying and thinking outside of the box.

I’m going to leave you with this fabulous quote from Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire. I am printing this out and hanging it in my classroom next year.

Failure occurs only when we stop trying to solve the problem.

What are your thoughts on failure? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Primary Paradise2







Martha from Primary Paradise


Primary Paradise

Primary Paradise

I have always had a passion for teaching and sharing with others and look forward to sharing my ideas with you!

1 Comment

  • Megan Hall
    July 12, 2013 8:26 pm

    I found this post through Pinterest. I love that quote! I try to discuss this with my students. I want them to know it’s okay to get something wrong. I tell them that the problem comes in when we don’t learn from our mistakes. I love things like this because more than anything, my hope and goal for teaching is to teach my students valuable life lessons that will help them become successful adults. By the way, I see you’re going to use Classroom Economy. I’m at a year round school that started back this week and I’m trying that out this year as well. I’m really excited about it! We’ll see how it goes. I plan on posting about it in a couple of weeks.

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