Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

Embracing Failure to Address the 5 Cs

This week in my “Foundations of Media Literacy” class, we reviewed texts on the shift in education towards a more digital landscape. In John Seely Brown’s video on Motivating Learners, he discusses the importance of play and experimentation in learning. Brown references gamers, specifically those involved in World of Warcraft, as examples of relentlessly self-motivated learners who consume information about how to advance in their gaming. Brown also uses the example of surfing and reflects on the intense passion, motivation, and courage that young surfers exemplify in their desire to become great.

The article, Navigating the Cs of Change, by McVerry, Zawilinski, and O’Byrne, highlights how the practice of internet reciprocal teaching can help teachers to promote the 5 Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and comprehension. This practice, which focuses on collaboration and student-centered learning, allows students to learn the skills necessary to independently navigate different types of text and a new platform to access information.

As educators, we need to create a classroom environment that allows all learners to be comfortable approaching the 5 Cs. A commonality between the article and video is the idea that people learn best by trying something new with the risk of failing. In a culture where grades and academic success are so important, we must somehow convey to kids that risk taking and exploration are critical parts of learning. Teachers, too, need to be willing to try and fail when it comes to teaching in new and inventive ways. We need to remember that real learning happens when people have “Aha” moments after failure!

Students are often so dependent on teacher directions and expectations that when given the opportunity to direct their own learning they, are afraid to do the “wrong thing.” I recently learned about a behavior management strategy that I think can address this fear of making mistakes and being wrong. Think of your typical reward system in which the class can earn a token like a marble, or in my class “A Warm Fuzzy”, when engaging in expected/exemplary behavior. When the jar is full, the class chooses a reward. In a recent book study that I participated in on Mindset by Carol Dweck, a colleague thought of the idea of a “Eureka Jar” system that turns the “Warm Fuzzy Jar” on it’s head- students could earn a token after learning from a mistake- when the jar is full, the class can celebrate all of the learning that happened as a result of mistakes. This is one way that teachers could cultivate a learning community where students are comfortable engaging in self-directed learning and taking risks. On the whole, I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves and to each other to allow risk-taking, experimentation, and meaningful learning to happen.