The freedom to fail
Amy Chua has opened a debate on learning. While we should challenge children and give them every chance to succeed, we should give them the space to get things wrong.
The U.S. is founded on wrong-thinkers: people who changed the world by challenging the conventional. Risk-taking pioneers such as the Wright brothers,Buckminster Fuller and Henry Ford shared a fearless attitude and willingness to embrace mistakes. Thomas Edisonfamously said of invention: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Children should be given marks for mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn and improve. U.S. students need an alternative to ticking boxes in standardized tests. A failed science experiment is a lesson in itself.
We're launching a foundation in Chicago that encourages children to make things — and make mistakes — in after-school engineering clubs. There are no correct answers: new ideas come out of experimenting. The aim is to show children that science and engineering are enormously creative and can solve real world problems, from domestic chores to improving the environment.
In a competitive world, driven by new technology and ideas, we need to foster free-thinking, creative individuals. The U.S. can help inspire more to take up science and engineering by tapping into what makes these subjects so inspirational in the first place: the freedom to fail and try something new.
James Dyson, inventor; Bath, England