Expect the Failure. Celebrate Not Giving Up

Failure will happen. I look at the five attempts it took for me to carve a Knight as a minimally viable piece. Took five tries. Probably well over a hundred hours.

I did fail. I did not celebrate it. I did take the risk again. The next attempt always matters more than the first in learning.

Even Piaget, in simplified terms, defined learning as a series of overcoming “crises.” Yet I feel educators put too much stock in the revelry of failure in maker spaces.

We need to create environments where every learner feels safe to fail but more importantly focus on the community needed to lift each other up.

Why We Celebrate Failure

I understand why. We must encourage an acceptance of failure to create the psychological safety innovation systems need.

Our schools suffer as systems that often can reinforce bias in the STEM fields. Nowhere is this more pronounced than risk-taking. Society has long reinforced risk-taking in males with “boys will be boys” and perfection in females with “sugar and spice and all that is nice”

Our classrooms both reflect and reinforce this bias. Grade anxiety is much more prevalent in females. Large numbers of those who identify as female and engage in self-harm report stress of grades as a cause. Correlations exist between eating disorders and need for perfection.

Beyond these horrid cases, we can often see this in office and board room dynamics. Male applicants will see a job posting, meet none of the required qualifications, and say, “Nuclear engineering, how different can it really be from burger flipping? I will apply.”

Often, and there is data to support this, women may have every qualification but miss one specific preferred skill and not apply.

You can perfection bias see it in planning meetings where the same voices often get amplified and other voices and good ideas may get lost. How many times are young females devs pushed into project management and not engineering?

You see perfection bias in the gender inequity in pay negotiation. Women will not take the risk, nor get rewarded if they do, in asking for higher salaries. Data proves this.

We still see, though demographics shifting, more males entering STEM fields. A field that requires exploration and risk-taking.

Beyond just building a culture where women can feel safe from workplace sexual harassment and violence we also must fight the narrative of perfection.

So we celebrate failure

Getting up Matters More than Falling Down.

Failing stinks. I hate it. I still expect it. I also do not face the same forces trying to knock me down as women in STEM fields. Sharing failures online comes with less risk to me.

I think instead of clapping when we fail, we should work as a society to help lift each other help. We must be intentional in the systems we design to make sure all the voices get heard and all the ideas explored. Create spaces where people can fail and provide feedback to succeed.

You can’t leave a winning idea on the table if the words never leave her mouth.

Expect failure. Celebrate growth. Curate a community of intellectual risk.

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