There is a peculiar quality which is popular more in the Asian sub-continent and certainly prominent in India, as a country, we hate to fail and we ostracize failure. From the time we were in school failure and passing marks were the barometer and divider between children, if you failed, you were to make to repeat a year and immediately it impacted your social standing with the Tiger Moms all around. This has changed of late, with no exams being held, but that will probably suck out any competetive spirit or any external motivation for kids to be keyed in subjects of choice or force.
This carries on as we move up the ladder, college admissions are based on marks, there have been instances of 100 % marks also not getting you the desired colleges. If you go further the numbers are insane, IIT for example has around 8 lac students applying and after the JEE exams 2.5 lac students go further and then probably something around 15000 seats ! And we are talking of accepting failure?
This could be one of the single most reasons for our lack of complete innovation as a country. Who would want to fail and be doomed ?
James Clear beautifully puts it -”Too often, we fall into an all-or-nothing cycle with our habits.
The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.”
Tinkering may be a way out or rather a way in !
Tinkering by definition means simply — Verb (used without object)
to busy oneself with a thing without useful results: Stop tinkering with that clock and take it to the repair shop.
to work unskilfully or clumsily at anything.
When we started sending out tinkRboxe’s at @iRobokid, we got a mix bag of results, some of the parents were very “ overly ” enthusiastic about the boxes and were very keen to see the outcomes of the projects the children were making. While we tried out best to explain to them, the process is important, our culture does not embrace the fact that the experiment may have just not worked. Lets try another way !!
However we got an email from a parent which is paraphrased as below
Dear Teacher, I would really like to thank you for creating this wonderful box. We were very sceptical about Radha (Name changed) about doing this. She loves art and hates science. We dont expect her to pursue any of this, We never imagined her to be so involved in trying to make a LED work. She may never probably do this again , but I was so happy she tried.
Thank you again,
Radha’s Father (Name changed)
While the names are not true, the story is & this is the essence of what we need to build and the endeavour of all our efforts. Its days like these and notes like this which keep us going and makes our hearts sing.
We are not perfect in most things we do but we expect near perfection from our children. When our goal should be to allow them to “ tinker ” freely and fearlessly. Its ok for something’s to be tried and not worked, its ok to have tried an experiment over and over again and not have got ahead at all. That is the essence of life.
Thomas Edison said — I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
And there are countless examples of failures that became historical discoveries , Pennicilin, Velcro, Microwave, from things we see daily like Coca Cola to things beyond our imagination like The Big Bang, all have been accidental discoveries.
You can read more on them here
To end, to all the Radha’s in the world, it would be wise to remember Loki’s words
- Loki: If you’re going to Earth, you might want a guide. I do have a bit of experience in that arena.
- Thanos: Well, if you consider “failure” experience.
- Loki: I consider “experience” experience.