Change, Risk and the Opportunity to Fail

25 02 2011

It is interesting that there appeared to be a tremor in the Twittersphere yesterday as talk of Change seemed to be missing mention of the need to allow for failure. Or at least, that is what the Tweets were saying.

I have a different take as elements of failure were mentioned in virtually every session I attended. Of course, it was stated very eloquently in the presentation by Sheena-empower choice makers and recognize that there will be some bad decisions- and explicitly by Dan Heath. Bottom line- schools must allow for the opportunity to fail. We need to allow students to become intellectual risk takers and we as educators and educational administrators must allow for pedagogical failure. We as teachers must be transparent in what we don’t know. Our students must have the opportunity to see us learn- Really Learn and that happens through failures.

I could not help but smile when the example was given about the cricket experiment when I had that very conversation (but not experimenting with crickets) the night before with some of my other Edtech colleagues. The gist of that conversation was that we as science teachers really teach more about the “idea” of science rather than the “process” of “doing science”. In other words, we teach about how science is done rather than actually DOING science.  If we were really doing science, we would have many experiments resulting in unexpected outcomes- inconclusive results-providing opportunities for our students (and our selves) to think deeply about why it did not work. It is always easier when things go as planned, as they should. But what happens when you have to actually solve a real problem? What happens when we are faced with actually being a scientist?

I have two posts from my past which I think speak to aspects of this idea of Change, Risk and the Opportunity to Fail. I have provided the leads to each with links for those who want to dive deeper into thinking about what it means to be a Master Learner, the risk from not taking intellectual risks, and the importance of allowing for the development of self-regulation.

Lack of Risk Taking Puts Nation at Risk

Lately, I have been frustrated by the lack of risk taking I see in the U.S. education. I am not talking about financial risk or personal risk; there are plenty of examples there. I am talking about intellectual risk taking. Our educational system has done a wonderful job of preparing students for more school. School leads to school which leads to more school. However, what happens when you run out of school? What happens when you get to the end of that educational path and you need to join what many refer to as the real world? [MORE]

Helping Students Develop Self-Regulated Learning Habits

What does it mean for a student to practice “self regulated learning”? I have been experimenting with different ways to help students learn to become more engaged in their own learning process. Rather than having “learning applied” to them, I have taken a far more constructivist approach. One of my central goals is to shift a student’s focus from one of extrinsic value and motivation to intrinsic motivators. In my experience, grades are often the focus of student motivation and the tacit purpose for all the work they do in school. When work is assigned, students expect and believe there will be a grade assigned. This trend can be expressed as “I did the work, why did I not get an A”?…[MORE]

The Teacher as Master Learner

Learning is a social construct where the learner is presented with opportunities to construct knowledge and meaning through contextualized experiences that help provide relevancy. This often takes the form of problem based learning or PBL where students work to solve ill-defined problems while connecting new information with that found in their existing schema. The result is contextualized learning which facilitates transferability and utility in novel situations. This is markedly different than educational requirements under which most institutions where originally founded…[MORE]

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25 02 2011
The Daily Find: February 25, 2011 | NAIS Annual Conference 2011 Community

[…] Chris Bigenho Change, Risk and the Opportunity to Fail It is interesting that there appeared to be a tremor in the Twittersphere yesterday as talk of Change seemed to be missing mention of the need to allow for failure. Or at least, that is what the Tweets were saying. I have a different take as elements of failure were…[MORE] […]

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