I have often told students that I expect them to fail in my class. It is important to understand that when I make this statement, I am not referring to the grades they earn. I am referring to living dangerously, trying new and interesting things, exploring and testing out ideas. Being a digital creative can allow you to take chances that a traditional artist simply cannot afford to try. The software allows you lots of power and flexibility in your creativity and therefore over your final artistic piece. Sure, you can play it safe, do what the rest of the crowd is doing...be a lemming. But what lemming has ever been praised for pushing the creative boundaries? It's those who live a daring life by trying new things who have their names remembered in song. And this is where failing comes into play.
Students often want to play it safe. They want the best grade possible. And, as a society, we have conditioned students to completely follow instructions without trying something new in the process. We reward them for solely meeting the minimal requirements to demonstrate understanding and move them along. Don't get me wrong, providing students with a detailed rubric is essential in making sure they demonstrate mastery of the essential skills we are teaching. But, shouldn't we encourage a love for learning new skills and trying to stand out from the pack? We also need to encourage students to explore those uncomfortable areas of learning where innovation begins. Sure, the first 10 attempts may be a complete and total flop, but the reward of success on that 11th attempt is well worth the initial struggle. History is full of examples of creative or daring individuals trying new things and succeeding after years of trial and error.
Let's examine the invention of the airplane as one example of building upon existing knowledge and going out of one's comfort zone until success is reached. The Wright brothers began getting acquainted with aeronautics in 1899. It was through a series of trial and error that they created what is often referred to as the first practical aircraft in 1905. Had they not tried something new and ignored the doubters, we may have never found ourselves traveling on vacation in modern jets.
So, try something new, push the boundaries, find new ways to use the tools you are working with and create something amazing! Be daring, unleash your creative beast daily and see what happens. Don't worry if you initially fail, you're bound to learn something from that failure and who knows, maybe the next attempt will be your big breakthrough moment! And, even if that big breakthrough never happens, you will inspire yourself to keep creating and building new skills!
I am a high school Career & Technical Education (CTE) teacher located in Durham, NC with a focus on game art and design. This blog provides a place for reflection on relevant classroom practices.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer or anyone else associated with Durham Public Schools.