Yesterday I was setting up a new ScoopIt account for HASTAC, and learning how to do so in the process. Sheryl Grant, one of my HASTAC/Digital Media and Leaning Competition colleagues had told me about it, and we were IMing as I set it up and tried to figure out how things worked. Naturally, I made some missteps and boneheaded errors. Sheryl LOLed and smoothed my ruffled feathers by telling me that Failing=Learning. Even Beth Kanter (Beth Kanter!) knows that it's true (see her blog at http://www.bethkanter.org/category/failure/). I know it's true--some of the biggest, some of the hardest, some of the most important lessons I've learned in life I've learned only after failing. Sometimes publicly, sometimes quietly, sometimes repeatedly. But always, failure was key.
So as I was drifting off to sleep last night, after spending a couple of hours trying to help a friend find a public school alternative for her bright, curious 5th grader (another public school fail), it occurred to me that I don't exactly understand what the difference is between the experiences of failing=learning and failing=failing. I can recognize the difference once it's happened, but what sort of experiences lead to this difference? What makes a failure a true failure rather than a learning experience? (I don't mean failure from lack of effort. I mean failure even in spite of effort, etc.) I'm just beginning to dig through the piles of Failure information on the web. If you've got ideas, please let me know!