How learning to fail can actually help us succeed

IT’S not common for an elite school to embrace failure, but for Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar, that’s just what they are doing. The Melbourne school has developed “failure week”, which involves projecting the mistakes of teachers onto screens in every classroom.

The idea is to encourage students not to focus on perfection, but instead, embrace failure as a means to build resilience, thus teaching the students to learn from their mistakes.

Being wrong can cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety for many people and as the school’s head of counselling, Dr Bridget McPherson, says, “It’s actually impossible to learn and learn well if you don’t make mistakes and you don’t reassess your strategy and you don’t experience things going wrong”.

Dr McPherson said, “We have young people who are reluctant to offer answers in class, because they’re fearful of what they might look like if they get the answer wrong,”. Fear of failure in the classroom environment can encroach on other areas of a persons life, leading people to be less likely to try out new things. It’s always going to be hard to learn and develop new skills if you don’t want to try because of a fear of failure.

Learn to fail. Learn to live. It’s probably a life lesson we could all embrace.