Not only is failure an option…it’s a great option

Written by: Jordan Tinney

Published On: May 30th 2013

In world of leadership, sometimes you hear “failure is not an option.” I agree. When life and limb is on the line, when the safety and security of our children is in jeopardy, when the costs of failure are simply too high to endure, failure is not an option. However, in the world of learning, not only is failure an option, it’s the norm.  If we don’t try how will we know what is possible? Without failure, there really is limited opportunity for growth and reflection. At last night’s Digital Learner Series in Surrey, the room was full of teachers who are risk takers, pioneers, and trailblazers in creative ways to support learning through technology. I bet that for most if not all of teachers in the room, on any given day, they’ve had their moments of failure in the name of exploration in learning. Not every learning strategy works first time. Not every lesson runs like a well oiled machine. This post is to all those teachers who try, explore, fail, get back up and move forward.

The Wright brothers pioneered flight. They failed numerous times. They learned, they adjusted and eventually they made it happen. The pictures we see are them soaring over the beach at Kitty Hawk. But the images you rarely see are the ones with their crumpled plane on the ground once again as they head back to the drawing board. I heard once that they had well over 100 failed attempts, but we don’t count the failures in people, we see the successes and we celebrate with them.


There is a Chinese Proverb that states:

  • Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

To all those who teach our children on a daily basis, take calculated risks in the name of adventures in learning, we admire the work you do and we know that your students are better for it. Yes it is true that failure is not an option in some circumstances but, in most cases, not only is it an option, it’s a great option as long as we learn and move forward. What better role models can we have other than teachers who show that they are human and are on this learning journey together with our students.