Why failure is important for creative learning

Britannica Digital Learning

Britannica Digital Learning are leading providers of digital learning products. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., is a global digital educational publisher with products that provide timely, relevant and trustworthy information and instructional products used in schools, universities, homes, libraries and workplaces throughout the world. Britannica Digital Learning work closely with schools, parents and educators, designing products for the 21st-century classroom and today’s home learning environments. They are a pioneer in digital education, and their products are marked by engaging and trustworthy content.

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Image courtesy of supplier. Image courtesy of supplier.

Enquiry is the key to learning, but enquiry in itself is valued as much as – if not more so – than the end product. When students learn creatively through enquiry, they practise asking questions, thinking critically and collaborating productively, all while deepening content knowledge and learning through experiences that can be clearly connected to their lives.

The creative skills that students learn in an enquiry-based classroom are ones that set them up for both higher education and the workplace by giving them a method to approach problems, tasks or assignments.

Furthermore, we should not be afraid of failure within the classroom. As students fail, the role of the teacher is to help them to think about where the problems in their process / idea / product may lie, helping them to ask the right questions, to reason carefully and practice reflection so that their next attempt at the task may bring a different result. Teachers can ask questions or provide feedback to prompt deeper thinking and connect students to appropriate resources, while also giving them enough room to truly make choices of their own, to make mistakes, and to be wrong.

Students might not like this, especially at first, because many are used to being able to fail and move on, or fail and be told the right answer. Failure is uncomfortable, but it can ultimately lead to deeper student understanding, creative problem-solving, and improvements in resiliency and patience, all of which are worthwhile pursuits.

As James Joyce put it, “Mistakes are the portals to discovery.”

Learning is a cycle, and learning through enquiry helps make this cycle more visible to students. When students can try, fail and then be given the right answer they are not being prepared for the ‘real-world’, where presentations are constantly edited, where experiments must be repeated, or where solutions to difficult problems often don’t work as planned. Through the process of enquiry, students build valuable skills that will impact them both in school and life - the ability to think critically, to reason carefully, to evaluate, analyse and synthesise, to question and hypothesise, to be resilient and determined (if things don’t work, figure out what went wrong and try again!). Teaching students that failure is an option, and how to overcome it through creative means, is one of the best gifts they can be given.

With the multitude of classroom technology products in the education market, our goal is to be an informational resource to help you create a thriving digital ecosystem for your schools in which students aren’t afraid to ask questions as they learn. Britannica LaunchPacks boasts over 1,000 collections of pre-made content which encourage students to ask questions within the resource itself, with teachers able to annotate, respond and discuss digitally.

You can take a look at LaunchPacks and access several of our content packs for free here. If you’d like more information visit www.britannica.co.uk for more information.

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