Facilitate Failure to Allow For Creation

How many times did the technological ‘Founding Fathers’ have to fail in order to create something our world could not live without? When I think about it, all of our founding fathers in American history, focused on citizenship at a deep level, they created, they failed, they redesigned, and they worked at the idea again and again until something bigger than themselves was created to impact society. In a sense, the Founding Fathers facilitated the creation of something beyond the imagination of many.  If we want to continue to support, mold, and grow great thinkers and designers, the education system must get past the easy learning and start facilitating learning that requires risk-taking for the good of the unique, meaningful, and dynamic learning product.

Larry Ferlazzo (2016, September 24) talks about failure through his experience and the examples of peers in Response: ‘Freedom to Fail’ Creates a Positive Learning Environment. In the article, Amber Chandler (2016) discusses her learning opportunity for students that made failure an acceptable product of learning. Chandler intentionally graded students on risk-taking. She upped the rigor of the learning by asking students to reflect on the learning process.

I find that the reflection of learning is often the most important part of the path towards mastery because it allows students to make connections through other perspectives. We do not reflect enough in my opinion. “The most amazing conversations occurred around our reflection process because students were complementing one another on risk-taking–an under-appreciated mindset. Until we recognize that academic risk-taking is, for the most part, discouraged, and intentionally normalize it, we will continue to create safe, but stymied students”Chandler recalls her students’ experience with the reflection of the risk-taking process while creating a safe space for her students to fail. In my opinion, if students are comfortable with failure and take time to reflect and connect to the learning process they will grow into confident learners who can anticipate the next steps needed to be successful on the next try.

Okay, teachers, I can already hear your feedback. “This is great Liz, very ‘eyes on the learning prize’ of you to suggest that we make space for failure in our classroom, but how do we do this within our current realities”? I think the answer has been in front of us the whole time. Yes, we want our students to use the most cutting edge technology to learn and they can still do this every day in preparation for life outside of our classrooms, but in all honesty, we can design our e-learning environments around an educational foundation to maximize the deep learning we want to see in our future leaders and change makers.

Check out E-Learning with  Bloom’s Taxonomy! Jason Johnson does a thorough job of explaining Bloom’s through the cognitive learning perspective to encourage and support educators as they facilitate the learning of students within the analyzing, evaluating, and creating higher levels of thinking. Johnson pushes the educator to own that students need to ‘understand’ before they ‘create’. When the creation does not work they often will need to go back to the understand phase of learning to apply the knowledge to the failure of the project and then try again with a healthy dose of new learning.

A short video explains the application of e-learning, regardless of learning and content management systems.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 10.20.26 PM

Johnson also provides in-depth and revised set of question and project stems for teachers to  ‘model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections” (ISTE Standard for Educators 6) within the foundational Bloom’s Taxonomy.

It is important that our learners are comfortable and confident as they take ownership of learning, especially within the 21st-century digital world. The intent of the e-learning should be to “establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency”(ISTE Standard for Educators 3). The intent of all learning can be in more than just the application of facts on a test or in a paper, but the analyzation and evaluation that leads to dynamic and meaningful creations. For the Founding Fathers of our country and the Digital Revolution, failure was part of learning. Educators can facilitate a risk-taking environment for students if they are brave enough to focus on the learning rather than the imparting of facts delivered as the ‘sage on the stage’ who takes the easy way out.


Chandler, A. (2016). The Flexible ELA Classroom: Practical Tools for Differentiated Instruction in Grades 4-8. Routledge.

Ferlazzo, L. (2016, September 24). Response: ‘Freedom to Fail’ Creates a Positive Learning Environment. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2016/09/response_freedom_to_fail_creates_a_positive_learning_environment.html

(n.d.). ISTE Standards for Educators | ISTE. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Johnson, J. (2016, September 26). http://higherelearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Blooms-Taxonomy-Question-Stems-Jason-Johnston.pdf [Blog post]. Retrieved May 19, 2019, from http://higherelearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Blooms-Taxonomy-Question-Stems-Jason-Johnston.pdf

Johnson, J. (2016, September 27). Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in E-Learning – Higher E-Learning. Retrieved May 15, 2019, from http://higherelearning.com/using-blooms-taxonomy-in-e-learning

Mashable. (2018, July 4). Who tech founders would be if they were America’s Founding Fathers. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://mashable.com/article/tech-founders-founding-fathers/?europe=true







Comments are closed.