Sarah Lewis, the first keynote at ASCD this year, was simply incredible. She shared many, many stories that resonated with me on failure and why our perspectives needed to shift on this thought. The main one is the thought that there is a difference between success and mastery. She talked of archers…archers aren’t shooting for success. They don’t hit the target once and quit. They work until they are to a point of mastery…where they hit that target over and over again. We should strive for MASTERY with our students. Success one day on one test does nothing. But mastery…which would look like a love of learning, or a true understanding of a concept, THAT is what we should want to see from our students.
I LOVED her point that the mountain climber that reaches the top of the mountain can look over and see another mountain to climb. His journey is never complete…you can’t climb ALL the mountains. She related it back to that the smartest people in the world KNOW how little they know. How mind blowing is that?
This also connects to Angela Watson’s “Truth for Teachers” that I listed to too this week. She talks about the need to let go of searching for the elusive search for perfection. Be ok staying in beta. Put out the most viable product that can get the job done, instead of stressing yourself (or your family!) trying to be perfect in every way. Enjoy that you can always tweak or define as you go along, with support from yours students. Be ok staying in beta.
I ordered Sarah’s book, “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery”after talking to her backstage. She was as down to earth and eloquent there as she was up in front of us all. She paused before she spoke, each word carefully constructed to articulate the exactness of what she was trying to convey. I know that I wanted MORE of what she was sharing. Her book is excellent.
My favorite passage is a story from Sara Blakely, the entrepreneur who developed Spanx, valued at one billion dollars in 2011. Each night at dinner when growing up her father would ask, “What did you fail at today?” Those conversations helped recondition what she thought and how she felt about failure. Failure became not the outcome, but the refused attempt.
Let’s encourage our peers, our teaches, our students to be deliberate amateurs. You never know what you will find out or be able to answer.