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Most likely, in some way or another, we are all involved in some level of education. We each have a student or an educator in our life or may be a student ourselves. So why talk about failure? The idea of failure and education are seemingly incongruent. Students feel the pressure to achieve in school both in the curricular and the co-curricular. Over time, school itself can become a microcosm of all of life for the developing student and may slowly become a pressure cooker for expected life achievement and success.
Today, America’s school system is producing historic levels of institutional academic achievement (which could relate to grade inflation, but that is for another post). But remarkably, students are simultaneously displaying a decreasing ability to manage anxiety and stress. More often than not, these stressors are related to perceived or realized personal failure in and out of the classroom. As the expectation of achievement rises, so does the fear of failure.
Worldview - Hardships - Failures - Instruction - God
A biblical worldview proposes hardships and failures as designed instruction by which we learn about our God, ourselves, and the world in which we live (Rom. 5:1-11; James 1:1-18). To comprehensively educate the whole person, we must include helping our students fail well. Walking alongside them in failure as well as in achievement is an essential component of a redeemed pedagogy.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating that we should promote failure. To pursue achievement with holy ambition is a beautiful dynamic of what it means to express our image-bearing capacities. The framework of the biblical narrative gives us the context to live, create, explore, and enjoy the creation in a way that honors the Lord and brings us joy (Gen. 1:26-31). When failure is demonized and seen as something to be acutely avoided, we miss the distinct opportunity to comprehensively...
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