Essay: Failure and education

It is no surprise that many put an emphasis on the importance of education. It is, after all, considered a key to a successful future. However, success cannot be attained without a little fear of failure especially when it comes to academics. The usual occurrence is this: a student will lose interest, pay less attention in class, and thus results to poor school performance. Some may be simply choosing to work below their potential and need the extra push, while others really do struggle despite all efforts. In that case, failure just might be the motivation they need in order to achieve or go beyond full potential.
Failure is often viewed in a negative way. If anything, it is not encouraged in education; rarely anyone will want to see a student fail or be close to failing. What others do not realize is that failure can be a good source of motivation. ‘In Praise of the F Word’ author Mary Sherry makes a good point by stating that the threat of flunking is ‘a positive teaching tool’ (566). It is not so much of a threat as it is a warning. To say ‘threat’ is harsh. Students should not be threatened, but rather be warned about the possibility of failure. How to deal with this possibility lies on the hands of the student himself. Some may respond to it as a challenge, as a chance to prove oneself and exceed all expectations.
Take my younger brother as an example. He has always done well in school, receiving A’s and B’s and getting recognized for his scholastic achievements. It was not until he stepped into high school when he began to stray. He became distracted by his surroundings which led to losing interest in his education. In other words, learning became less of a priority. He was no longer trying as much; he just got by. Of course, our parents were not just going to let him be. The constant warning on the possibility of failure made him realize that he needs to start applying himself once again. Once he did, it proved to be beneficial to him and not just on his GPA.
Now, this is only one situation, and not all cases are the same. There are others who struggle, yet they still manage to be promoted. Social promotion is defined as the practice of passing a student onto the next grade despite not having met academic requirement or performance standards (Social Promotion). Moving students onto the next grade because of age and not their ability is something that should not be practiced. It seems to be a way to save a student’s face, to save him from short-term embarrassment he might face. Though some may argue that it is for the social and psychological well-being of the student, they also need to consider the long- term effects, such as illiteracy, it will have on the child. Sherry writes, ‘Passing students who have not mastered the work cheats them and the employers who expect graduates to have basic skills’ (566). She is not wrong. The whole point of education is to give students the opportunity to discover, learn, and enhance their skills. There is no sense in passing a student who has not learned the material. When a student passes without even having the basic knowledge, he is already being set up for failure because he has this false thinking that he has acquired the skills needed to be successful. This false thinking can go on until the student finally realizes that he has been misled. However, if the student is not promoted and experiences failure, it just becomes another opportunity to learn.
The truth is failure is not as bad as some may think. Failure is experience in disguise. A student who fails a class may have to take it again. This means another chance to maybe make a better choice, to try harder, and to prove that he has the ability to take on the challenge. Every failure has something to take away from. In this case, it might be the background knowledge of the class that can be use to one’s advantage. Instead of taking failure as something negative, take it as something positive. Use it a source of strength to learn and go beyond of what is expected.
If failure, even just the warning of its possibility, is the key to motivate a student then so be it. Make use of failure as a teaching instrument. Allow the student to make his own choice on how to deal with it because lessons will not be learned if he does not make mistakes or push himself to reach his potential. The ultimate decision lies in the hand of the student. It is his choice whether or not to put effort and energy on his education.

Source: Essay UK - http://ntechno.pro/essays/education/essay-failure-and-education/


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