Here's a quote from Carol Dweck's book: When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don't define them. And if abilities can be expanded — if change and growth are possible — then there are still many paths to success.
The image is from cheezburger.
Failure hurts, but it does not define me.
Here is the comment I left for Rolin:
As someone who is working with growth mindset both for myself as a learner and in my classes also, I want to assure Rolin that it is more than just coffee mugs and motivational posters — but such motivational paraphernalia can also come in very handy as a way to connect with students. So, in response to Rolin's article, I made a LOLCat inspired by this passage from Carol Dweck's Mindset: "When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don't define them. And if abilities can be expanded — if change and growth are possible — then there are still many paths to success." You can see the LOLCat here:
In a Twitter exchange with Rolin about this article, Rolin suggested that my students need to read more Beckett. Given that Beckett is one of the "bleakest authors on the human condition" (as Rolin describes him), I think I'll stick with Dweck instead of Beckett. I have no interest in celebrating failure, but I very much want to free my students from their often paralyzing fear of failure; Dweck is a big help with that, and it sounds like Beckett really would not help with that much at all.
Setting Beckett aside, I'm not sure where Rolin got the idea that Dweck is a "failure celebration." Dweck instead emphasizes the idea of failure as feedback, separate from the labeling of smart or stupid, separate from institutionalized reward or punishment, etc. In fact, one of the things I like best about Dweck is the way that she warns of the dangers of labeling students as "smart" and the reward of "A" that ends up putting arbitrary limits on learning.
In any case, as long as school labels student failure with "F" and puts that label on the transcript, teachers like me, who throw out grading (#TTOG), have a lot of work to do. For me, Dweck is helping me to do that work. Rolin argues that failure is personal; I disagree. Failure should not be anything personal, but unfortunately my students take the grade of "F" very personally. I am using Dweck's idea of a growth mindset to help them move beyond that, from failure-as-personal to failure-as-feedback. It has nothing to do with Beckett, but it does have everything to do with getting beyond grades to self-directed learning instead.