Monday, November 30, 2009
Failure must be an option
As writers we are constantly rejected, even if we sign with agents, have our books published, and sell thousands of copies. In publishing, rejection slips are inevitable. Let's face it, even NY Times Best Selling Authors sill get rejections.
As writers, for the most part, we deal with it. We don't become depressed, crawl into a hole, or bury our head in the sand. We query the next agent, write the next book, and work on our craft. We have to, if we are committed to the craft of writing.
What brought failure to my attention is that I recently noticed (but it's likely been going on for a while) a disturbing trend among supposedly progressive schools. These schools are no longer testing and grading their students. The teacher writes a report at the end of the year discussing how well the student did. Excuse me? The students don't get an ongoing chance to fail?
Failure is good. Failure tells you where you suck. Failure tells you where you need to focus your efforts. Failure can provide the motivation to drive you to succeed. Without failure, you have no way of knowing whether what you've done is good or bad, and no motivation to fix what's wrong. You don't even know what to fix.
The problem that I foresee, is what happens when these students go out to face the real world. I can't imagine how they will feel when reality smacks them in the face. They are likely not equipped to handle it. They probably haven't developed the emotional armor (thick skin) needed to get through it. The end result is that the student may end up being more of an emotional wreck than if they were allowed to fail early in life, and learn how to deal with it.
I'm no sociologist, but I can't imagine this would be a good program to train our next generation of writers. It's likely that when they find out how hard publishing really is, they won't know how to deal with it, and simply give up.
What do you think? Should kids be taught to experience and learn to deal with failure?