What is Failure?
The word failure creates mixed feelings for me. I use to think of this word as having a negative connotation encompassing the ideas of defeat, shame, and embarrassment. When failure occurs, as it always does in life, it can lead to a dead end where growth and joy come to a halt.
This is not the case for me anymore. As a teacher, I have the opportunity to witness failure as a stepping stone for deeper learning and collaboration. The beauty of the Reggio philosophy, in my opinion, is for the children and teacher to learn from one another and grow. Our failures become our teaching points for ourselves and others to shed insight into our learning.
More times than not, the children embrace the unknown and the mishaps that occur along the way with grace and empowerment. The new found knowledge and joy propels them to then dive deeper, not because I am encouraging them, but rather because they want to satisfy their own thirst for knowledge. This innate curiosity leads to life long learners.
For the past three weeks, many of the children have been exploring the idea of boats traveling through the current in the stream. They began this investigation with natural resources around them in the forest such as pieces of bark and sticks. This curiosity even led one child to create their own boat in our making space using recycled materials and to later bring it down to the stream. With curiosity building, Jen gave the children pieces of foil to tinker with in the water.
As engagement increased, the children began to notice the directionality and speed of the current along with factors that might effect the boats' travel (such as leaf blockage, arrangements of rocks, etc.). They dove deeper into comparing and reflecting on boat designs with races and challenges.
Reflection and perseverance began to prevail with time as the children began to try again.
The energy continued to bubble around the boats during our next visit to the creek! I noticed designs were rapidly changing in order to see which ones were most effective....from rolled up balls of foil to frontal designs being angled. Failure and reflection and hope seem to be the cycle of learning.
The third week, we traveled a bit further down the stream to see what the new terrain would be like for the boats. Would the current change, would there be different natural obstacles, would the water depth vary, or would there be other factors to consider in order to have a successful boat journey?
Boats of all shapes and sizes were created....donut shaped, balls, ovals, horseshoes, boats that carried smaller boats inside, ones intertwined with man made materials and nature, and the list goes on and on. There were endless ideas and theories being tossed around and applied.
What I observed in this all, from all the children, was that failure was not a dead end, but rather a resource to better the next attempt. There never seemed to be disappointment if one loss a boat challenge or got stuck in a pile of leaves, but eagerness to try again.
Just like the water, the children just kept flowing with momentum and energy.
Some random facts about me...