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Failure & Success

Written by Myles Curtis
July 07, 2015

Exploratory is a way for students to think outside of how failure and success are measured in the traditional classroom.  Just as it challenges teachers to step outside of their roles, it challenges students to take charge of their learning.  The inertia of starting one’s own work, the doubt that can plague you along the way, the fortitude to keep going after encountering a major obstacle or frustration, the ease of being bored when getting interested would be the more difficult step – all of these are pitfalls that students fall into.

In order to be ambitious, to take risks, to experiment, to try different approaches, to recognize when something is working – students need to be allowed to fail.  Making failure an option is the opposite of low expectations – it’s teaching students to observe and learn and recalculate in stormy waters as well as smooth.  Students who are used to being rewarded and praised for following instructions diligently must figure out how to recover a suppressed sense of how to make your own rules and find a different approach from everyone else’s.

Success, too, is something that we want students to think about differently in Exploratory. A flawlessly executed project, in this sense, can be a failure – challenges are the most important learning experiences one encounters when working on one’s own project, and we want students to reach for something that they haven’t yet mastered. We want students to be bold.

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