Staff Editorial: The importance of failure

In our society today, success is everything. We get a good education so that we can get into a competitive college, find a real world major and eventually be as successful as possible. We thrive on getting the perfect score, only doing things that we are good at, and being the best at everything. But with this perfection-driven society, we lose out on another key facet of success: failure.

We aren’t talking about failure as in getting an F in school, but instead true life failures––inherently getting something wrong and needing to start over from scratch. In our society today we don’t want to make people feel bad, to tell them that they are wrong, that we have lowered our standards in order to accept everyone. But failure is an essential part of education. Without failing, we never learn to question, to revisit, to fix, or to truly understand.

When in life is everything perfect the first time around? Do inventions come about in one sketch, one design, or one program? Of course not. If BSM really wants to teach us about the real world, the school needs to give us the experience to deal with real world problems.

Somewhere in our curriculum we need to be able to fail, so that we can improve from our mistakes and truly learn from real-life trials and tribulations rather than just memorize statistics or listen to lectures. We are trained to work on worksheets and notes that are designed to give us 93.9 percent, but we never learn from those assignments. We copy down the work from the book or the notes and don’t actually learn anything. If we failed a worksheet or did a real-life application project, we would be forced to work, to understand, to really immerse ourselves in the material––this is what learning really is.

Some classes have thrived on this notion of coming from failure. The Advanced Competitive Science classes build robots that will never achieve their objective, learning from the failures in design, programming, and knowledge that stop them from succeeding in their goal. While Mr. Hickman may crush robots in one hand, these students learn that failure isn’t the end, but the beginning. It’s a time to start over, try a new design, and begin a new path. That tenth try may just help you find something you never knew existed.

Even classes outside of ACS, such as art classes or physics class, allow students to figure out how to learn and how to improve through real life-application. If you fail making a clay pot, you figure out why you failed and you do it again––even better. There isn’t only one trial of physics projects; instead students can try again from failure until they find the best version of their designs. These classes don’t only teach out of a book, but teach real life.

Initiating failure into the curriculum can’t be applied to every class. Some ways of teaching won’t be able to allow for these real-life failures. But we can learn to say, “I completely did that paper wrong, but so what? I’ll learn from my mistakes and do it better next time.”