Leaders, Are You Willing To Fail?
Each week I send a weekly message to my school staff of outstanding professionals. The purpose of my weekly message is not only to share a calendar of events with the staff but more importantly to push their thinking about what we are doing in schools.
Often in my ongoing conversation with my staff I will discuss creativity because I feel that creativity in schools is vital to our students' success as adults. Take about 2 minutes to watch the above video I came across this afternoon. As you watch the video you will see that there is one important question at the end of the video. Are you ready... "How do we stay that way?" You have to watch the video to understand the context.
Being a principal I do not think that schools intentionally beat the creativity out of kids but I do think that the "fear of being wrong" does scare the creativity out of most of us. As a society we have created an education system that is built upon a GPA race because as humans we have an insatiable need to measure ourselves against everyone and everything.
Sir Ken Robinson argues that the system is set up to kill creativity and he is correct. It isn't intentional, but it is a sad outcome. We must be the best and compare ourselves against those that we believe are the best. When we feel we are not the best, we have failed, we often give up and begin to think we are not capable. We are not creative.
This same mentality spills over into life in general. We have the top _________ (fill in the blank) in almost every aspect of life. We have rankings for almost everything in life. I challenge you to find major life events that are not associated with a ranking of some sort.
We are afraid to let our creativity loose because others will judge it, rank it, and tell us all the reasons why they think we are wrong in our creative interpretations and learning.
Think about that for a minute.
Do you like to be wrong? Doubtful. Do you learn from being wrong? Definitely. Why? Because you did not like being wrong you most likely went back to learn from the mistake. In the end isn't that the point? Learning? That is what it is all about right?
So as school leaders...principals, teachers, directors, superintendents, parents... how do we overcome this fear of failure within students? How do we overcome this fear of being wrong within our students? How do we inspire creativity within our students to a level that even though they may be wrong and make mistakes they are still successful and still learning?
Are we going to be able to do away with the GPA race? Not anytime soon because it is too ingrained in the educational culture. Can we just stop assigning grades? Not without a huge re-education of society and parents. These are entire system approaches. So what can we do?
We focus on what we can change starting today.
As district and campus leaders we can promote creativity by providing teachers permission to fail. Now, this does not do any good if we are right there when they fail and instead of cheering them on, supporting them, and encouraging them to take a risk we write them up because it did not turn out as planned.
Creativity in schools begins with school leadership, period. As leaders we must be willing to take a chance ourselves. We need to be willing to take a chance with students and teachers and see what happens. We may fall flat on our face and we will learn. We may soar to new heights because we took a chance and we will also learn. Either way, we are modeling what we need from our teachers and students.
My risk-taking with students will become apparent as a "success" or "failure" in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait to share the results. No matter the results, I am doing what I expect from my staff. I am taking a chance and encouraging students to put themselves out there with their ideas to change the world. I will let you know how it all turns out.
What are you modeling as a school leader?
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
3/19/2016 06:00:44 pm
So true. We need to learn and teach others how to fail forward. In life sometimes we win, sometimes we learn.
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