Leave some room for error


Sammi Handler

Time and time again failure is seen as an essential stepping-stone for success.

So I find it strange that we have such a high expectation for success and scarcely any room for failure. Providing a more stable safety net for students could help lessen stress this year.

I really started to wonder about this when my ninth grade history teacher warned our class that he expected our first test to be a “bloodbath.” He told us that we needed to get used to receiving bad grades before the difficulty of history class increased sophomore year.

My teacher’s warning just made us study harder to avoid an apparent slaughter of our college dreams. Consequently, we were unsuccessful in understanding the crux of his message: We will fail, so we might as well learn how to deal with it now.

Students, parents and teachers tend to have a “failure is not an option” attitude. That approach is beneficial in Apollo 13 situations, but we are just trying to graduate from high school.

A common discussion topic among students and administration is how to alleviate the pressure and stress caused by the workload. The New York Times reported July 27 that the suicide rate for 15- to 16-year-olds increased from 9.6 deaths to 11.1 per 100,000 from 2007 to 2013, and that more than half of college-age counseling clients had severe problems with anxiety and depression.

We could lessen the stress this year by accepting failure and being permitted to do corrections to earn a few more points and actually comprehend the subject. We could analyze our errors and work with teachers to prove that we know the material.

Teachers allow students to meet with them after a bad test or quiz, but in most cases the grade stays the same. If there was the possibility of a slight boost, students would be more apt to make appointments and fix their errors.

No one should choose to fail. That would simply be poor judgment. But failing is ultimately a life lesson that has so many more real-life applications than knowing that President John F. Kennedy’s plan to oust Fidel Castro was called Operation Mongoose. By the way, that plan failed.

At the moment there is very little room for slip-ups. A bad grade on a test will always be there to weigh you down at the end of the year, even after you have managed to pick yourself back up. Anything below a B+ is practically considered to be an eighth deadly sin, except we don’t have any sure-fire way to repent. On top of that, some classes scale certain tests while others do not, and some teachers drop an uncharacteristic test grade while others take off points for not signing the Honor Code.

While inconsistencies in teaching style cannot be fixed, a safety net allowing more chances to do corrections could make up for them.

Let’s make failure an option so that one “bloodbath” in history class will no longer squander our dreams of going to a certain university.

Failing is really an essential part of success.