Permission to fail
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
got high schools on my mind.
A high school teacher told me recently that her school allows students to try
harder courses than they normally might take. For example, students might sign
up for an Honors English class instead of a regular English class or an AP
Government class instead of a normal Government class. These are big issues in
secondary schools: who gets to take advanced / Honors / AP courses, who gets to
be exposed to rigorous course content, and who doesn't. At first I thought that
this was great, that here's a school that's trying to open up learning
opportunities for students. But then my back brain registered how she talked
about the school policy. She said that the school gives students
"permission to fail." And that's when it all fell
apart for me.
Permission to fail. What a horribly sad and
depressing term. Does a permission to fail policy
recognize that these kids might need a little extra support to be successful or
does it simply thrust them into the challenging learning environment and say,
"Good luck!"? Is a permission to fail policy premised
on student success or on a belief that "these kids really can't do the work but
we'll let them try because it looks and feels good" (to us, to parents, to the
public)? Perceptions and beliefs shape reality. Will a permission to
failpolicy ever result in large numbers of successful
I left that school wishing it had a permission to