Preparing Our Kids for a Challenging Future, Part 3: Why Your Child Needs to Fail

If we want to prepare our kids for the new economy, we must let them learn to fail.

Fail? Failing means getting an F. Why would we want our kids to learn to fail?

Our own public school experiences taught us that failing was bad. That’s unfortunate, because the best inventions in the world have come about because of failure. Thomas Edison (the inventor with a record 1,093 patents to his name) once said:

“I recall that after we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed ‘to find out anything.’ I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.”

Our world desperately needs innovators to help us solve our problems, yet we coddle our children so they don’t have to feel the sting of failure. Today’s parents write school papers for their kids so they don’t flunk the class; they take over the building of their kids’ Pinewood Derby cars so they don’t lose the race. How can kids figure out what works if we don’t let them find out what doesn’t work first?

In school, kids are taught to avoid failure. But homeschooling parents can give their children the opportunity to fail, and the time to try again and figure out where they went wrong by letting them have real-life experiences where they learn to fail. If their bread fails to rise, they don’t get an F in baking. But they do see the difference in the loaves that result, and they learn to remember the yeast next time they bake bread.

Homeschooled kids also have all the time they need to figure out problems. If they’re getting hung up on a long division problem, they don’t get a red F on their paper, nor are they urged to finish up quickly because math class is almost over. Instead, they can take their time and keep trying to solve the problem until they come up with the correct answer. This gives them confidence in their ability to tackle a problem and stick with it until they solve it, and also teaches them that failure is merely part of the solution process.

Our world needs persistent problem-solvers. Homeschooling is the ideal training ground for them because it gives them the opportunity to learn that failure is something to learn from, not something to fear. It also helps them become confident problem-solvers as well as persistent ones. This is just more evidence that homeschooling is the very best way to prepare our children for a challenging future.

Next: Part 4, College is a Tool, Not a Goal