Try. Try again.

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I have grown to believe that the most important word in education is ‘Try’ and that the most important sentence is ‘Try again’. I believe that learning is spelt T.R.Y. Progress is spelt T.R.Y. Development is spelt T.R.Y and Innovation is spelt T.R.Y. However, ‘try’ can only be realised if we have culture where failure is not only accepted but expected. Why? Because failure (First Attempt In Learning) is proof that we are trying.

In my experience, people are often put off from trying and trying again because of the way in which failure is viewed and reacted to within their organisation.

What is the first thing you do when a bomb goes off? You treat the wounded, right? There may be a time and a need to send in the soldiers. There may be a time when policy change is required. In the following months, there may be a need for heightened security and monitoring. However, the FIRST thing you should always do is treat the wounded.

I have been in countless situations when the metephorical bomb has gone off –  when failure and disappointment have struck. On so many of these occasions, the first people sent in have been the soldiers, law enforcement, the policy changers and the monitors. In doing so, they have left the wounded lying on the floor. You see, when you’ve been injured by failure or disappointment, the FIRST person you need is a ‘medic’ – someone who is going to pick you up, check you’re ok and say ‘try again’… ‘Only this time, let’s do it together’… ‘Let’s evaluate what went wrong and try again’. When failure hits, when disappointment strikes, let’s not leave the wounded lying on the floor.

Only by treating the wounded, following a fail, will we create a culture where failure is not only acceptable but expected. Only by treating the wounded will we create a culture of ‘try’ and ‘try again’.

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One comment on “Try. Try again.

  1. Adrian Bassett says:

    Love the blog. I’m looking forward to reading more.
    I agree that try is one of the most important words in education. But where does the ability to try come from? How does someone pick themselves up and try again after disappointment? Is the ability to try innate in all humans, or do some have more ‘try’ than others? In which case, can we teach trying, or is there more to it?
    What interests me at the moment is not necessarily the try, but what underpins that powerful word. How can learners be self motivated to try new things, to take risks? Does this come from a bank of successes? Is the ability to try therefore inextricably linked to self esteem? How resilient are learners when faced with challenges?
    I often find myself asking more questions than answering. But then, surely curiosity and a love of learning is another underpinning motive of trying.
    Try is a powerful word in education. The word that underpins that must be far greater though. I just can’t put my finger on it!

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