Celebrating Failure

A former student wrote and shared a story about how he rejoices in the teacher of his third grader. One of the many unusual things the teacher does is have all the kids clap and smile when a peer makes a mistake in answering a question.  She wants the children to celebrate failure as a part of learning. One day the teacher made a mistake. My friend’s daughter started to clap. The class followed her. She was delighted, the third grader was delighted, and the father was delighted.


  • What normally happens, short-term and long-term, when a child or an adult makes a mistake at a time of inquiry?
  • What is the teacher in this story trying to accomplish? What other things could you image her doing that are outside the norm?
  • What do you learn about the teacher from her reaction to the children celebrating her mistake?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?