Blog Post

Introduction...and some thoughts on failure

Hi all.  My name is Erin Parish. I’m a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology and a member of the PhD Lab in Digital Humanities at Duke University.  I'm excited to be a HASTAC Scholar and have a topic I would like to discuss this year.  Failure.

As teachers and students, we are confronted a lot with the idea of failure, but what are the structures that form these notions?  How does this shape how we think, write, research, and teach?

For most of us in graduate school, failure is not about getting an F on a multiple-choice quiz.  Unless you are a little crazy and taking a class you have no background knowledge on like I’m doing.  Then this might be a weekly occurrence. 

But usually, the fear of failure can keep us quiet in a class, prevent us from putting our ideas out in print, can make us feel unsure about using our own words to say what we mean.  The fear of failure is all over our educational experience.  Some of it is useful and unavoidable.  But some of it actively holds as back from being innovative and excited, creative and collaborative, brave and bold.  And the fear of failure can certainly hold us back from having fun.  That’s no good. 

Perhaps it is impossible to talk about failure without also examining the metrics we use to measure success.  So let’s talk about that too. 

How has failure shaped your educational experience—for better or for worse?

Have you ever been in a classroom environment in which you strongly feared failure?  Have you been in a classroom in which you didn’t?  What were the differences between the two?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions, or any other ideas that come in mind!  Looking forward to the conversation and learning from everyone this year.






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