Recently, I watched an amazing TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz called "On Being Wrong." I found this video to be so enlightening, both as a teacher and as a student. Among my students, I notice a sometimes disturbing need to always be right. You know the archetype: the student who brings their assignment up after they complete each individual question because they want you to check it before they turn it in for a grade. I'm always sad to see so many young people already obsessed with being right, with getting a "perfect" grade. I want my students to know that they are more than their GPA. In a recent conference on Design Thinking, the presenters from Lime Design talked about the necessity of celebrating failure because risk is a necessary part of learning. (I think they're really on to something there.) But then, while watching Ms. Schulz's TED talk, something strange happened. I shifted my concern away from my students' desire to be right, and started thinking about my own. I'm definitely not completely free of worries about succeeding, especially when it comes to my curriculum decisions in my classroom. Of course, some concern about my teaching practices is healthy; it keeps me from resting on my laurels or becoming complacent. Ms. Schulz has, however, made me more aware that this concern can, at times, become stifling, and that I should never keep an overwhelming fear of failure from taking a chance that could end in success.
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.