Monday, June 15, 2015

How Can Students Learn From Failure?


Mindsets in the Classroom - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 provided a great opportunity to reflect on my own teaching practices and think about how I have dealt with "failure" in my classroom.  Since I myself have a growth mindset (although I never really thought about it before reading the book,) I don't really believe that there is such a thing as failure.  I believe, like Mary Cay Ricci and others mentioned in the book, that "failure" is part of the road to success and mastery.

I love this quote by Bruce Lee.

Attribution theory suggests that successful people usually attribute their success to effort while those who are unsuccessful attribute their lack of success to forces out of their control like the difficulty of the task or having bad luck.  We as educators and parents need to build the belief in our students/children that their own actions, effort, and persistence guide them toward their successes, not external forces.  

In his book, Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink talks about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.  Those with a growth mindset tend to be motivated by intrinsic rewards; the personal satisfaction of a job well done, whereas those motivated by extrinsic rewards such as stickers or prizes, rely on that end to keep them going instead of the personal satisfaction of completing a difficult task.

Another important factor surrounding motivation is autonomy.  Students are much more motivated when they have a choice.  

If we can train our students and children to view failure as a means to an end, and to accept feedback and reflect on what they have done, correctly or incorrectly, and if we praise them for their efforts, they will eventually grasp the content and learning.  According to Jerome Bruner, students need to "experience success and failure not as reward and punishment, but as information."


To download a copy of the notes and quotes for chapter 5, click here.
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