One of the hardest things for me as a parent is to watch my son fail. I know I am not the only one like that – watching over our kids, protecting, suggesting right solutions, correcting just in time before they fail whether on a playground or in a classroom.
But, as Roger Schank writes in his book Coloring Outside the Lines, “you can’t learn unless you are willing to fail”. Failing compels one to try it again (aka practice) and/or try it again differently (aka creative approach).
One of my favorite to teach… is through letting the students be “King for a Day”. I give them a never before seen math problem and allow them to make the rules on how to solve it. As they make the “wrong” rules, they will play with them and see that they can’t work. That’s the beauty in it! Just make sure to encourage them to do some problems (i.e. experiment) with their new rules so they can make sure it works fine.
So next time I am tempted to rush in and save my son’s block structure from toppling or nudge the right puzzle piece closer to him or inflect my voice just so when asking him which element goes next into a pattern, this one or THIS one, I will count to 10 and repeat the “let him see for himself” mantra. And yes, through my son’s failures I will experience my own ones. But I think the “you can’t grow unless you are willing to fail” rule works for adults as well. I am prepared to test it. Will you join me?