Let’s Stop Describing Our Straitjackets, ok?

22 01 2014

A very good friend of mine, who happens to be a colleague I truly admire, posted on Facebook today that mistakes, failures, and doubt can make us better learners.

I agree…to a point.

They sure can, as long as we decide to DO something with the mistakes, failures, and doubt.

You see, it does us no good to stand around, describing what our straitjackets feel like to us. How they keep us from doing things smarter and better. Instead of spending energy complaining about the problems, let’s get to work, figuring out a few ways to take the straitjackets off and DO something better. And then let’s try those ideas out! And when these ideas don’t work, as mistakes in our thinking are inevitable, let’s regroup, rethink, and try again.Stop describing our straitjackets

Because no one likes straitjackets. But so many of us end up spending our entire lives admiring the pain of them.

Not for me.

(Hat tip to Erin Fitzpatrick at Greenspire School in Traverse City, Michigan)




4 responses

25 01 2014

Love this. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I really think the “psychology of okay to fail” needs to be flipped around. True, we need open environments where we’re not afraid of being skewered, I’m not saying that, but we do need to use the vocabulary of success. Great post.

25 01 2014

Thanks, Casey. I visualize the try/fail process as more triangular: try/fail/recover. It’s been a bit rough watching so many begin to repeat, “failure is ok!” when just a few years ago I got to see what happens to some great kids when a group of teachers decided to say, “Failure is ok! It’s just one of many choices that kids are able to choose!” And they walked away, dusting their hands of complicated thoughts, letting the kids fall flat and stay there.


While I hope many today think that the “recover” phase is implied, I know from direct observation that too many might take it literally.

I may over explain sometimes, but I don’t assume that all will get the full story.

25 01 2014

Interesting about the context of the “choices” comments. I believe that failure is one of the great lessons if there is someone there to pick up the pieces and say, “Okay, now, what’s the plan going forward?”

I listened to a minister say marriage isn’t about each party doing their 50/50, it’s about each doing his/her 100%. I’d say this applies to teaching, too. If one party isn’t doing their 100% or at least more than 50, it’s not going to work. And that doesn’t mean they “fail” or are failures. It means that if they want to master this concept they’re going to need to try again–and I’ll be available when they’re ready, trying to do my 100% 🙂

2 02 2014
Sunday Saloon: What I’ve Been Reading Online 2/2/14 | kelseyempfield

[…] Let’s Stop Describing Our Straitjackets, ok? […]

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