In school (not to be confused with education), failure is the worst thing that can happen. When you fail, it means you wasted time. It means you can’t move on to the next artificially constructed step. When you fail, you endure shame. Failure is considered the opposite of learning.
Contrast that to failure as an innovator. To fail in the real world is to learn. When you fail, it means you acted on a hunch or a dream. It means you had courage. It means you discovered new knowledge, and found out what the market thought of your idea. Perhaps Edison put it best when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison was not only a prolific inventor, but also a dropout. School makes little room for the failure required for real learning and success.
A sign posted in my neighborhood, doubtless meant to inspire kids as they head back to school, got me riled up about the common notion that learning comes by sitting, rather than doing.