Sometimes success can be detrimental to learning while failure can be good. What appears as a disaster can often lay the foundations for future success.
Usually, educators and students focus on building confidence through successful completion of learning tasks, summarised by Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. A positive feedback loop is established if learners are successful in mastering new ideas and skills. The problem is if teachers, trainers and instructors never challenge students to the fullest extent of their abilities, as this might also ensure overconfidence, slow progress and boredom.
We should not avoid the risk of failure; science is all about the possible risk of failure. Testable hypotheses have the potential to fail an experimental or computational test; ideas that are not testable are considered to be outside the realm of science. The occasional failure shows the limits and scope of an idea’s validity and enables us to advance scientific ideas.
There is a need to find the balance between challenge that extends students, and over-extension. The former results in greater and true confidence and ability, while the latter leads to catastrophic failure and crises of confidence. Education, like life and like all scientific endeavour is about taking responsible risks safely. When we cultivate the roses of success that grow from the ashes of disaster, we must not forget that roses have thorns, or that the occasional setback or failure is just as important for learning as a succession of successes.
Field of Research
130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy 130103 Higher Education 130106 Secondary Education