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Fail Better
February 24, 2014 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Fail Better "The goal of FAIL BETTER is to open up a public conversation about failure, particularly the instructive role of failure, as it relates to very different areas of human endeavour. Rather than simply celebrating failure, which can come at great human, environmental and economic cost, we want to open up a debate on the role of failure in stimulating creativity: in learning, in science, engineering and design."
posted by dhruva (13 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
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ART
posted by thelonius at 9:25 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


---
An aside on the name

I am a huge nerd for Beckett's prose, and I count Worstward Ho among his best novels, but I find it sourly amusing that the fourth paragraph of the novel:
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Becomes "fail again, fail better", commonly cited as an affirmation.

In the book it is one of the brief moments of hope (a hope that is given up and forgotten by the end - this is one of the major themes of the novel). A brief moment of hope, swiftly abandoned, in a dismal and misanthropic book, is taken up as an affirmation.
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Regarding the project, I am a huge fan of failure. I think that students who get straight A's should be taken aside and asked to challenge themselves, because the absence of failure can be the failure to be great. Very few interesting things come out perfectly the first time.
posted by idiopath at 9:44 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


Coincidentally, I was teaching Browning's "Andrea del Sarto" this afternoon, which is in part about just this problem:

Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.
There burns a truer light of God in them,
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know,
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,
Enter and take their place there sure enough,
Though they come back and cannot tell the world.
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:35 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


You want poems about failure?
posted by thelonius at 10:57 AM on February 24


I like it! I've long wanted to launch a business journalism magazine only covering failed businesses and interviewing failures. Nobody in the tech world especially seems to understand the importance of recognizing Survivor Bias.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:23 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


FAIL
posted by jeffburdges at 1:49 PM on February 24


From Potomac Avenue's link:

"The holes in the surviving planes actually revealed the locations that needed the least additional armor. Look at where the survivors are unharmed, he said, and that’s where these bombers are most vulnerable; that’s where the planes that didn’t make it back were hit."

Brilliant.
posted by idiopath at 2:00 PM on February 24


Epic fail.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:05 PM on February 24


Regarding the project, I am a huge fan of failure. I think that students who get straight A's should be taken aside and asked to challenge themselves, because the absence of failure can be the failure to be great. Very few interesting things come out perfectly the first time.

Related... this is a book I recommend to certain parents, those with children who are terrified of failure. You wouldn't think 6 and 7 year olds would care too much, but a few really, really do.

My district's horrible, horrible new math program (did you know that a cube has 8 equal angles...?) nevertheless occasionally asks them to do something interesting, and today they had to draw a shape with three sides and two corners... they failed cheerfully and brilliantly until one boy said, "Does it have to be a closed shape?" and then they all drew open shapes with three sides and two corners, like 3/4ths of a square.

The book said they were wrong, because the authors define a shape as closed, but whatever.
posted by Huck500 at 3:10 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Fail Faster, courtesy of Extra Credits
posted by Navelgazer at 4:17 PM on February 24


For me personally failure is a stifling feeling that ends up with me depressed in my bed for weeks.
posted by gucci mane at 4:34 PM on February 24


OMG YES to teaching kids how to fail (and how to recover, reframe, be flexible). When I went back to my secondary school in Malaysia and basically told my juniors that failing the Big Exams isn't the end of the world, they cheered. I knew they would have never been told this; I wasn't, which was why I thought it was important that they heard that. So many people in my school ended up with various mental health issues because exam fails were too closely linked to failures as people, and yet it was all dismissed as "hysteria".
posted by divabat at 5:20 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


teaching kids how to fail

That reminded me of this blog post : Please don't help my kids
posted by dhruva at 1:03 PM on February 25


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