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Michael Luetjen's Three Laws of Failure

Michael Luetjen’s Laws of Failure. See more at

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I met Michael Luetjen at ISTE, and he’s posted this thought-provoking commentary on failing at the TCIPG Education workshop led by my colleague, Jana Sebestik. He asks, “So when was the last time you failed? When was the last time that you were cheered on at every stage of your failure?” His Laws of Failure are lines of a poem in the form of Newton. They are stories of motivation and pride in accomplishment. The learning process wasn’t neat, but it was fun, informative, and inspirational. So…, yay for us! Jana created a space were learning happened.

I’m reminded of Jo Boaler, who says, “celebrate mistakes.” Of course, this is dangerous territory; ripe for misinterpretation. We need to be clear that environments dedicated to learning are special places, the outcomes should not be high-stakes for the learner. In environments that require expertise, e.g., installing new brake pads on a car, we want performance to be error free. But if it’s a classroom, where one is learning about brakes for the first time, and in the presence of a trained mechanic, a failure in that safe space is a learning opportunity. His final quote is the best. “I failed at ISTE this year and it was fantastic!”