Trying to think of a topic fitting for an education blog that meets the A to B Challenge (F) for today stirred feelings of failure in me. Should I write about failure? Should I write about fear? I considered writing about "F-Pattern Reading," which is itself a form of failure. I thought about Billy Collins's poem "Forgetfulness" and the ways my memory fails me so often these days. At times that makes me fearful.
The intersection of fear and failure in education is paradoxical.
Who among us hasn't heard stories about the number of times Michael Jordan missed a shot during his professional career? Who hasn't heard stories about Babe Ruth's many strikeouts?
From Albert Einstein to Oprah to Walt Disney and many others, those who have achieved the heights of success have experienced the depths of failure. "Famous Failures"reminds us of Emily Dickinson's truth:
As a speech teacher, I know kids live in fear of failure. They worry about standing in front of the class and delivering a speech. They worry that others will reject their ideas, their topic, them.
To ease their fears, I tell students about my many failures in speech. When I was in eighth grade, I realized that I couldn't speak in public (at church) without falling apart. I took speech in ninth grade. For more than half the year, I had to restart every speech because I'd always have a break down. I took the competitive speech class--much to my coach's dismay. She took me to tournaments and let me fail, which I did--repeatedly. I did not win a trophy until my senior year in high school. I earned some speech and debate scholarships. My senior year in college, I was 10th in Oratory at the Phi Kappa Delta national tournament, and my debate partner and I finished 9th in CEDA debate at that tournament.
Had I quit when I failed, I would never have experienced success.
Nothing in life comes easily to me. I'm almost always a failure--before I'm a success.
We are failing to fail. By that I mean we each need to embrace our failures as opportunities to learn, find a way to begin again, and work our way through so we can taste the sweet nectar of success.