This post is a a sequel to Let's Give Away More Fs which can be read, or not read, to enjoy the following.
As my story in this very demanding position continues, it is only natural that I become experieneced in the ways of failure. After all, one does not teach CADD, Spanish, and the broad field of Industrial Arts to ages from 6th grade to 12th grade without tripping up on this thing or that.
In my last two posts I wrote about how I think F should be at the top of the grading scale and addressed that their are different types of failures.
Here is a list of types of failures that I have compiled and would be happy to add to with your input:
Low Risk Failure
High Risk Failure
In this post I will provide examples of each type of failure. Let's start with the fact that in my last post I asked for reader input but didn't notice until writing this post that I had not activated the comment section.
Last week I wrote about a snowman.
"The first failure I can recall involved a snowman, my younger sister, and a distraction. In the process of building a snowman with my younger sister, I decided I must go inside to fetch a carrot. Dusk was falling, the temperature dropping, and we had both watched our older siblings go in for similar "errands" without return.
"You'll come back outside?" she asked
"Yes," I said, wondering why I wouldn't.
I did not. As it turns out, I got distracted by the television screen, and never returned to my sister or the snowman. I failed on my word."
HIGH RISK FAILURE
I'm in college and I've been freshly elected captain of the university's off road SAE Baja racing team. We traveled from Northern Michigan to Bellingham, Washington to race our in-house built vehicle. Many late nights were spent tuning the brakes, adjusting the steering, and installing shock mounts.
In Washington, our vehicle made a lap at the start of the 4-hour endurance race on the 2 mile track, and then our vehicle disappeared. The track was diverse and there was no knowledge of where the vehicle was, or where to request for the tow vehicle to go. Once it was finally found, it was determined the shock mounts were installed on way too late of a night.
The tow to the pits was lengthy and chewed up most of our time. The repair was a crap shoot, though part of me enjoyed the adrenaline of trying to come up with a repair, and working with an energetic team, giving and taking orders. It wasn't enough. The car got back on the track, but only to break a chain and the end of the race came before any more laps could be made.
LOW RISK FAILURE
This blog. I wouldn't consider it a success. I would consider it a failure so far. My readership is extremely low. I'm almost positive some of my posts are only read by my partner who I force these posts upon for her grammatical expertise. Guess what? It's not a big deal. Every time I write a post I risk essentially nothing.
I once endeavored to build a futon. I had two friends help me build this futon. This futon never brought itself to fruition. It never even came close. I think maybe four parts out 40+ were completed. I had decided to build the futon under the influence of the Dunny Kruger effect. The "You only think you're smart, because you are actually that dumb" effect. I completely underestimate the time necessary to complete the futon. After completing less than 10% of the project in the amount of time I thought it would take to complete at least 25% I scrapped the project in favor of more realistic projects.
Now, does this classify as quitting?
If I were to sacrifice all interest in the skills utilized and acquired during working on that futon then yes that would be quitting. But I used the experience to strengthen my judgment and move forward. Even though I calculated inaccurately, I still calculated.
Fast forward five more years. I am taking my certification tests to become a teacher. I passed my Industrial Arts certification with no sweat. The Spanish minor, though, a minor I had felt cornered into choosing, required me to take a certification test for Spanish. I failed, costing me $4,000 off of my first year's salary. I had slightly above a B average in all of my Spanish classes.
When learning how to weld I use to change the settings on my welding machine to ridiculous settings. Settings that were almost impossible to weld under. What this did was teach me to recognize symptoms of failure when I was operating under ideal circumstances.
Similar to planned and calculated failures, this is a step ahead of the game failure than in it's end is actually a success.
When planning tasks for my students, or preparing a Spanish lesson plan, I use my long-term planning as a fall back when short term plans become unfeasible. The projector is broken, the tool is lost, the student is absent, etc. The intent of my long term planning is to give me a level of flexibility when these types of failures happen and I am able to pull a plan from the long term and plug it into the short term for the time being.
Proceeding with fail-safe maneuvers has revolutionized my teaching game and has improved my classroom credibility and culture. There was a time when I couldn't foresee or plan around the sun rising or setting even.
There are obvious some areas of overlap between these types of failures but I though examples would really help to facilitate the important conversation and embracing of an all crucial phenomenon of true success.