“I think you can either be crushed by failure and do something else, or allow it to make you more resilient.” – Carlos Murillo
Nowadays in a classroom, all that seems to matter is whether a student gets a passing grade on a test. The product has become more important than the process, when really, each is very important (sometimes the process might be even more important). It is important for students to get good grades, but we should be open to them taking creative risks and letting them make mistakes so they can learn and grow.
In an article titled “Let Kids Fail in Order to Succeed!” by Eric Delli Bovi, with this strategy in mind, you can allow more discovery, risk, revision, and reflection within your classroom. In art education especially, mistakes are a big part of the creative process. Teachers shouldn’t hover over students too much and try to prevent a student from making mistakes, because it is a natural part of the learning process. The article states that through process-driven art education classes, “students develop the skills needed to overcome short-term defeat in order to achieve a greater sense of their own artistic, academic, and personal potential.” For example, students might not feel comfortable painting a portrait but if they at least try, they can reflect on what specific areas they struggle with when it comes to painting and portraiture, which will give them an idea of how they can improve in their next painting. Having a day where the classmates can critique each others art is another way for students to learn what skills they need to improve on.
Art is all about risks and experimentation, but it is not the only content area where this is important. This strategy can relate to any subject area. In science for example, a lab might not turn out correctly or go how a student thought it would. Their hypothesis may not turn out the way they thought it would and the end result of the experiment may be completely different than what they expected. But the student learns why result happened the way it did or why the lab didn’t turn out the way they thought.
Or in English, or any class involving essays, let students take a risk with their writing. Don’t just make students write informative essays. Give a little more free reign for creativity. This could be seen in an essay where you have them argue a point they strongly believe or having them right a fictional short story. More free reign and risk can open the door to more failure, but again, that is where the learning process comes in. Students can learn from having a peer revision day in class when working on an essay. The students write a first draft and then have class time to have either a peer or the teacher read it over and help articulate what can be improved on so the student can grow as a writer.
Every class at the end of an art project, experiment, essay, etc. should a have chance to reflect on what they did well and what needs to be worked on. The students can journal about it, discuss it with the teacher, or have peer reviews.
In education, we need to stop teaching that the most important thing is a smooth process and perfect outcome. This discourages students from taking risks and makes them afraid of making mistakes. We want students to be able to learn from mistakes, not to have them expect that everything will always go exactly as planned. In the end, some mistakes turn out not to be mistakes at all, and can even turn out to be a success.
Link to the original article: