My own thoughts, ideas, beliefs and words. I give credit where and when it's due. Let's push boundaries, get rid of compliance, and say goodbye to the status quo, all while focusing on Equity, Inclusion, and Compassion. I'm an anti racist educator, author, consultant, parent and husband.
This is a post written by two school leaders; Jeff Kubiak, current Head of School at The Gardner School of Arts & Sciences in Vancouver, WA, and Eric Ewald, current lead learner and chief storyteller at Van Allen Elementary School in North Liberty, IA.
Failure, in EDUCATION....Must not only be an option, but a certainty.
Remember the phrase from Blockbuster Movie “Apollo 13”? titled, “Failure is not an option”? I just found out it was written in by scriptwriters for the movie, not actually said by anyone from NASA. But wow, let’s use NASA as the example here. If NASA had never NOT failed, what would our space program look like? How many iterations of rockets, spaceships, spacesuits and MARS rovers would they have NOT gone through?
As educators, the term FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION does NOT sit well with us.
As you look at today’s world and challenges, the educational institutes,our model companies, and especially some of our most inspiring heroes and athletes, one common trait holds true: Failure is a must. A given. A for sure. An absolute. A 100% guarantee to growth, success and beyond.
Next, let’s just look at a guy named Michael Phelps: 5 Olympic Teams, 28 Olympic Medals, 23 of them GOLD! Not everything was all roses for our fine dolphin-esque friend. Two DUI arrests, a viral photo of him smoking a bong, failed swim sets, bullied at school, diagnosed with ADHD and mental illness AND struggled in school. Now, he has a fiance, a baby boy, a great coaching job and endorsements galore. Seems to me that he learned from every one of those misfortunes we call failures and became without a doubt, the History’s Greatest Olympian Ever!
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins
It’s okay to fail. It’s going to happen. We’ve got to embrace failing. We have to encourage failing as a part of the process. And then we have to get back up. We have to keep going. We have to relentlessly persevere. If/when we do these things...watch-out!
Failure + Perseverance = Success
Michael Jordan and Nike created one of my all-time favorite commercials that they titled “Failure.”
The commercial begins with Jordan stating, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.” What if Michael Jordan had given up after his first missed shot? What if he would have quit? We would have been robbed of witnessing one of the greatest clutch athletes of all-time!
Failure is ALL around us. So why are we, as a society, (sometimes) ashamed to fail? It’s okay. We have to make it okay. As educators (and parents) we have to ENCOURAGE OUR KIDS TO FAIL; we have to ENCOURAGE OUR KIDS TO LEARN FROM THEIR FAILURE; and then we have to ENCOURAGE OUR KIDS TO TRY AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN while cheering them on along the way.
As a child that grew-up in the 90’s, I get fixated on anything Michael Jordan fairly easily. Fortunately, for me, with this topic he is all over the place. He was featured in another great Nike commercial, titled “Maybe It’s My Fault.”
We all want to ‘Be LIke Mike.’ But let’s remember this message, from Mike, “I’ve failed over, and over, and over again in my life. And that is why, I succeed.”
Hey! How about this dude named Thomas Edison? You may have heard his name once or twice. Well, Thomas was called “too stupid to learn anything” by his teachers and classmates. He had over 1,000 failed attempts at inventing the light bulb...Can you imagine? Talk about resilience, grit, tenacity and focus. Other non-winner ideas, such as mining methods, cement companies, cabinetry, pianos...the list goes on and on didn’t work either for our friend TE. One of my favorite quotes of his is “I have not failed 10,000 times, I have found 10,000 ways things did not work. Where would we be today without a light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera?
(Jeff) In my lifetime, I have failed over and over again in school ( yes, there were some D’s), sports (missed the ‘88 Olympic Team by .12), relationships, music playing and arts to name a few.But I have to say, the BEST teachers and coaches I have had lead me to believe in myself, to try again and again, improve, and not give up...ever.
As leaders (we all are, by the way), this is what we MUST do everyday for all of our students, workers, friends, and family. Be there. Show them. Lead them. Encourage them. Cheer them on. Push to greater heights. Mentor. They ALL deserve it...and so do you and I.
New Life. Where does it start?
We are born so helpless, fragile and delicate, yet we are brought into this world with expectations galore.
I was fortunate to spend some time with my day old niece this past weekend; Amelia Grace Connolly. Wow! What a joy and bundle of beauty, but such a frail little specimen she is. It was such a pleasure to just look at her, and touch her tiny little fingers. Watch. Stare. Enjoy.
I too have recently began a " new life", having accepted the position as the Head of School for an amazing educational mecca called The Gardner School of Arts & Sciences. Over the last few weeks, I have been separated from my wonderful wife, and two children, as they are back in CA spending time with family and finishing taking care of some odds and ends with our relocation.
This has not been easy on any of us, but as I reflect on Amelia Grace, with her tiny fingers, her little ears and small little puffs of air, I realize that we are both in the same boat, so to speak.
I am new to the Northwest, to this school, and to the community of Vancouver.
Amelia is new to her parents, her sister, her home and her extended family...everything really.
I have high expectations of myself in my new role and want to be a positive role model for all.
Amelia has high expectations for herself from society; preschool, college, marriage, kids, careers.
I am learning hourly, daily, and weekly about how the school has been run, its past, and so many minute details about the operations.
Amelia has been learning by the second, minute, hour and day as well. Breathing, nursing, moving, body control, inputting data and much more.
I am nervous at times, for I want to succeed in the eyes of those around me, the students, and most importantly, myself.
Amelia, I am sure is nervous as well. She most likely wants to be the best little sister in the world. She wants to do everything right in her parents eyes and make a huge and positive impact on the planet and people.
So, what do we do? Who do we turn to?
Well, for Amelia, she has Malena, her big sister, her mother and father, amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Soon, she will have friends, teachers, coaches, tutors and mentors to learn, glean and model from.
I, on the other hand, have my PLN. My @twitter network and #voxer, my friends, family and new supports: Board of Trustees, NWAIS New Head Group and many others.
As Amelia and I navigate our newness, our beginnings, and paths, I hope to learn from my many failures. I hope to teach her to do the same.
We are always learning.
We are always trying.
We are always failing.
But most importantly, we count on those around us for help, love, support and direction.