Celebrate This Week: Failure

More and more I’m thinking about being a learner and failing.

I love learning. I seek it. It keeps me going.

But recently, I’ve had a couple of learning with different reactions. I didn’t love it. I hated it. I was failing, and I didn’t want to fight through it. I wanted to flee.

I wanted to hide, shut down. All things kids do when they can’t, and teachers try to break through, I felt.

I sat there. I didn’t understand. On the spot with others looking at me.

Some say myself included, we need to push to discomfort to stretch ourselves. We need to fail to succeed. But that day, I went to that place, and I walked away feeling less than others.  It’s stuck with me. And I’m glad.

Why did I react that way? Was it the tone, environment, subject?  Was it something I wasn’t ready for? Was it just how I woke up that morning?

The trouble in this learning situation wasn’t the push, the challenge, the lack of understanding, or failure. It was a feeling, like drowning. I felt it at the moment, and it lingers. It a scary place. To go there again would make reconstructing my sense of self more and more difficult.

Another person might have thrived in this experience. Their tipping points of frustration, their competitive sense, their need to comply or a multitude of other factors might have kept another person afloat as a learner.

As an adult, I have a choice and knowledge of myself. I can avoid or modify my situation.

My students don’t have that choice. It’s up to me to create it for them.

They come to me day after day.  How they feel deep in the pit of their being when they walk in the door is on me.  Some don’t have the maturity or enough learning history to process failure and solider on. Students who tune out, misbehave, appear lazy are making the only choice they can at that moment. They are protecting themselves. They are keeping themselves in a safe place. I know it. But it’s a good thing to feel it.

It isn’t about the push, the stretch, or the failure. It’s about how you feel deep inside when you finish a task, a day, a week. And how you walk in the door the next day.

I experienced failure, and it wasn’t anything but painful. It sticks with me.

Our paths to learning are varied. The point is that we stay on it. This week learning wasn’t what I expected, and I celebrate it with you.

Read more celebrations here. Thank you, Ruth, for this place to share.

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