THOUGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FAILURE

I have always thought that "failure" was the potentially most powerful friend that artists could have. Education in the arts should be more about learning how to manage and exploit "failure" and less about how to make successful work (whatever that may be?). Several famous quotes come to mind:

"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Winston Churchill and "I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work." Thomas Edison.

Failure plays a central role in personal development. I have argued persistently all my career for the development of educational environments where students can take risks, fail and continue testing ideas and developing methodologies. There can be no genuine creative development without such environments. They create confident, determined people who understand the importance of failure and remain modest in the face of their inevitable successes.

Without such environments, we build hierarchies of power that stifle risk-taking and creativity. The result is people who lack the confidence and the compassion necessary to productively assuming important responsibilities. Such people are often arrogant and destructive.

For confident people, failure is an indispensable part of learning. For those lacking confidence, it is often mistaken for a humiliating error - something to be avoided at all costs.