I like to think that I'm a risk taker. I like to think that I'm bold and live life on the edge. I like to think that change is good for me and will make me better. But I also like to think that I'm much better looking than I really am and can still keep up with 16 year olds in basketball. (Well I can keep up with 16 year olds on the court, but I pay for it in the morning. However, I'm still as ugly as I've always been ***see profile picture!)
Needless to say, what goes on in my mind and what really happens are two VERY different things. In all honestly, I like to play it safe. I like the guaranteed route. Like most educators, I want the greatest success with the list bit of resistance. Change is good, as long as it doesn't change me. I'm an education reformer that just happens to be closer to the "way we've always done it" mindset.
I can remember day after day preaching to my students about taking risks. Step out there and be willing to "fail successfully". (FAIL SUCCESSFULLY was an expectation in my classroom). However, rarely was I willing to step up to the plate. Rarely was I willing to put myself out there and do something that was edgy and offered an opportunity for failure. Likewise, rarely did I achieve excellence as a teacher...
...until I began to put myself in situations that afforded failure. I will admit, at first I was like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was skiddish and still wanting t o hold on tight to the outcome. However, once I got my first taste of success...now I'm not just talking about about success as in a bunch of students making "A's". I'm talking about success when I looked at a piece of students work, their finished creation, their blood (yes I said blood), sweat and tears, and stood in awe of the amazing that I would have NEVER-not in a million year- created or thought to create. It gave me a rush. I have chills now just thinking about those times. Now, those times in my teaching were scary. I had a clue of what was going to take place. I'd plan and outline like crazy. I'd dream and hope and pray, but I would never allow myself to control the outcome (even though I wanted to oh so very badly).
My fear in education is that we have eliminated the option for failure. Failure for us and failure for the kids. We have grown so accustomed to cookie cutter ways; ways that are guaranteed; ways that have ALWAYS "worked". The elimination of failure has a residual affect as well. When the option to fail is removed so too is deep problem solving, any type of real world relevance, and even motivation. I guess this brings me to my final thought for this post: If failure isn't an option, than neither is excellence!