Failure as a Prerequisite for Success
Posted by Joanna on January 16, 2020
“The recipe for succeeding in any given field is hardly a mystery: good ideas, hard work, discipline, imagination, perseverance and maybe a little luck” writes David Noonan in Scientific American. Oh, and let’s not forget failure, which Dashun Wang and his colleagues at Northwestern University call “the essential prerequisite for success”.
Five years ago one of our students exclaimed, “Failure is just a sad form of awesomeness!” When asked to explain, she replied that some people feel sad when they make mistakes, but they are good! Teaching children to take academic risks and to be at ease with failure is a by-product of our Montessori philosophy. This may seem counter-intuitive to those of us who learned in environments that rewarded us for the highest grade, the perfect essay, or the neatest project. That student has gone on to design and engineer an underwater ROV that detects micro plastics from the ocean floor. She has gone on to place as a finalist in nationwide science fair competitions, give several televised interviews and write a book for children.
Maria Montessori, a scientist, understood that being afraid to fail is being afraid to try. It isn’t easy to be comfortable with a mistake that you’ve made, but this in fact, is exactly how we want our children to feel! At ASM, our school-wide STEM curriculum intentionally engages our students, through trial and error, to grow and meet with success.