Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's OK to Fail?

I admit it; I haven't set foot in a grade school classroom for some time. I was surprised when I did go to visit a fifth grade teacher. The classroom was similar to what I remembered, there were desks and bulletin boards and a teacher's desk, but there were some things I didn't see - like a chalkboard, blue inked ditto papers and rows of desks. Instead I saw something called a "SMART board," "QR codes" and "clusters". This was not the world I was used to seeing in grade school.

I really wasn't prepared to hear the words, "It is OK if the student fails." Now I know that the teacher said something else after that, but I stopped listening at the "OK to fail" part. Now in my day it was unacceptable to fail. A student was expected to get it right - all the time. If my teacher had told my dad it was OK for me to fail - I cringe at the thought.

Now in all fairness to the teacher, the math program in use now is one that is designed to teach students key concepts over and over again. For example, algebraic equations are introduced one week and then re-taught each succeeding week. The theory is that the student may fail the first week the concept is taught, but through constant reinforcement, will eventually learn and master the concept. Hence, it is OK to fail in the short term, knowing that the student will succeed in the long term.

As I was driving home I was thinking how that is how it works in life. I did not hit the bull's eye the first time I shot my .22 rifle. I did not bowl a strike the first time. I did not sink a free-throw the first time, and the list goes on. Perhaps it is OK for the student to fail so they can succeed in the long run.

I like the concept, but there are limits. I really don't want my son to fail the first time he tries to stop a moving car at a red light.

1 comment :

Through HIM said...

Great thought … when I was in college studying Education, they taught us that we build precept upon precept. A study has to learn the first precept before they can move on two the next precept. I believe that as you said this is life, but it is also our Christian walk, we learn Jesus loved us by faith, now we share that faith with others. Dr. Don Allen, Jr. (www.throughhimministries.org)