My friend and occasional roadmate, Vicki Davis wrote a wonderful piece recently about failure as part of learning in Fail Forward, Move Forward.

Failure A striking part of the post was a study by an art teacher in how students might respond to a new grading system. Dividing the class in two groups, one grading was based on QUALITY of work, the other group was graded on QUANTITY. 

The second group (Quantity) ended up doing better (quotes and data can be found on Vicki's post). While the "quality" drowned in theory while striving for perfection, the "quantity" group improved with prolific amounts of practice. Failure became part of the learning process.

Failure is an important aspect of all that we do in education. It is a big part of the process that helps stimulate and cement learning. Yet, our educational system is and continues to be fixated on“right answers.”

Not embracing failure is enormously deceiving to students and builds resistance and fear into our students’ perceptions of failure. Ultimately, "fear of failure" paralyzes students from asking more and better questions and experimenting in their attempt find better answers. Students learn the lesson of “right” and so they see failure as the enemy of their potential success

I love what Vicki says:

Failure has a place in my classroom.  It is hard, it is painful sometimes and it is hugely humbling (particularly when I'm the one who has a super bad crash on the bleeding edge) however, it creates the richness of learning that makes a good technology centered classroom world-class.

There are plenty of times in my life where a failure led to a great success — but only because I looked at the fail as a successful learning opportunity. What are some of your most successful failures?

Photo on Flickr by Behrooz Nebakht