"Failure" is Okay

We can all agree, times are a bit crazier in the world today. We are all (mostly) on lock-down, surviving and helping others through the current outbreak. We show compassion for others, and have been supporting small businesses like never before. We also are able to take some time to reflect on our actions, our ideas, our interests. Many people will be trying new things as we are all safe at home*.

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With trying new things - baking, arts and crafts, playing video games - we won't get it perfect the first time.

When people think of "failure", it is always in a very negative light, as if it's something to completely avoid. The idea is that 'failure' is almost a permanent debilitation; if someone does "fail", or doesn't fully follow through with what they were planning, they can't get back up from it. People are shamed by others for "failing", and those that do "fail" feel shame for doing so. (Notice how each time I mention 'failure' or a derivative, it is in quotations.)

DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT, IF YOU DIDN'T TO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, IT'S A DISAPPOINTMENT

It's NOT a disappointment, it is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE! We cannot learn unless we see and do the wrong thing and get feedback or reflect on said experience.

This topic has come up a lot this school semester for me, as a graduate teaching assistant working her way through earning a Teaching Certificate and building a teaching portfolio. Many seminars on teaching presented by my university have focused on using failure as a critical and positive tool for teaching. And because we have all grown up in a culture where 'perfection is everything', introducing "failure" into a course curriculum should start very small and be a low-stakes activity.

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Not only will I try to help students through their first semester of classes during a pandemic, with coursework moved fully online, I also have to keep in mind that I am allowed to "fail" too; not just in academics, but in personal growth expectations for myself. It is all a creative process, a process that takes multiple iterations before a final product can be produced. Much like making wire tree ornaments and charms, practice with ideas and techniques is critical, and it never works the very first time. But, with patience and repetition, memory increases so we can do our tasks better the next time.

We will get through these trying times, and remember:

Love Yourself, Love Each Other, Love Nature

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