Failure is the Foundation

“Only the naive expect to succeed in every endeavor.  For the majority of worthy pursuits, whether military missions or corporate endeavors, success rests on the foundation of several failed attempts.”  – Leadership Lessons from West Point


Wow . . . schools really struggle with this learning from failure model.  Schools, the institution that is charged with the preparation of young people for future success, seem to be among the worst organizations at embracing the process of learning through experiences.


Think about this quote from a school perspective – we expect children to succeed in every endeavor.  While we know it’s not realistic, it is part of the core beliefs for many in schools.  This failure of the American education system is due to the fact public schools have permitted others to define our culture.  The “culture by default” approach to schools has created the current environment in public education.


One has to look no further than the decade old No Child Left Behind legislation.  When passed in the early part of the twenty-first century the Congress of the United States passed a national law saying every student in America – 100% of American school children – would perform at our above grade level in math and reading.  Talk about a culture setting event – so, we lived in failure for over a decade.  We were governed by waiver after waiver from the federal government; we didn’t learn from failure.  We simply allowed others to label public schools as failures.  Even today, Ohio’s education leaders tout a new report card – one based on tests that legislatures have abandoned after one year – as raising of standards.


Let’s take our culture back.  Let’s lead with a discipline-driven approach to our own culture.  Let’s band together to take back our schools.  Let’s act on purpose, let’s focus on both life and academic skills, and let’s build a foundation of experiences for our young people.  We must create an environment where not succeeding the first time isn’t a permanent failure, but a foundation for future success.  Let’s model this for our students, talk about it with our parents, and communicate this with our community.  This is our worthy pursuit; we will make it a reality.

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