Failure: Why getting it wrong is really a sign of getting it right

Failure: Why getting it wrong is really a sign of getting it right

Failures, Screw-ups, muck-ups, *uck-ups. We all make them, trivial ones and bigger ones.

Yet if you skim through Facebook or Instagram you’ll mainly see images depicting perfection and success. The shiny new Car. The promotion. The mouth-watering dinner which looks too good not to take a picture of, (I’m certainly guilty of this one).

We humans can’t resist sharing our successes and I’m all for celebrating our wins in life.

I’m just curious, what stops us from celebrating our failures?

When I was 22 years old, I returned to my Secondary School as a Staff member, working as a Learning mentor supporting children with learning difficulties. On my first day, I was sent to a year 8 math lesson to support a low ability class, accompanied by a senior learning mentor to observe in action.

As you can imagine, it was a peculiar feeling stepping into a classroom I had once sat as a student. Once I shook off the nostalgia, I got to work in getting to know the students I was there to support.

Butterflies were dancing in my stomach so I lingered at the back of the classroom for a few minutes, before nervously sparking up a conversation with a boy and girl sat at a desk in the corner. After some time convincing the pair I really was a staff member, not a 6th former, I asked how they were finding the lesson.

”Meh, it’s math’, was the response’. Some things never change I thought to myself.

The Teacher gathered the classes’ attention and their heads turned towards the whiteboard He began to teach. I watched on too. The teacher reached a point where he invited the students to raise their hands and answer a question. ”So Class, what do you think the value of X is here”?

No response.

After a few moments, a single arm in the center of the room, belonging to a girl, raised uncertainly. She whispered her answer, in a tone sounding more like a question than an answer.

‘Is it 4”?

”Not quite, right”, muttered the teacher, ”anyone else”?


My eyes scanned the room to check the students were awake. There were signs of life, fidgeting hands and flittering feet, but still, silence.

I crouched down and whispered to the pair I’d spoken with before, asking if they knew the answer. ”We think it’s 3”, they said. They were both correct.

Before I had a chance to stand up, the teacher had shared the answer and dived into the explanation.

The teacher gave the class permission to carry on with their work, I crouched down again to table with the boy and girl. ”You both knew the right answer, what stopped you from putting your hands up and answering Sir’s question’?

‘I didn’t want to answer, in case I got it wrong’, the girl replied as her head bowed down to the floor.

During my time working back at my Secondary School, I heard this line, time and time again from students of all ages and abilities. ”I didn’t want to get it wrong”. ”I didn’t want to …read more
Source: Steven Aitchison