Experiential learning involves learning by doing. You learn to cook by actually cooking, not by studying recipes. You learn to build, by building. It is these fundamental skills that help you gain an understanding of problem solving, and failure. That’s right, failure – because not everything will work the first time. The very nature of experiential is that it is hands-on, and probably somewhat experimental. A recipe might seem easy in a cookbook, but may not turn out exactly when you make it, and that’s okay. You can’t expect to be an instant expert. Some of the notion of instant gratification of course comes from building toys such as LEGO. Now LEGO is a great platform for creativity, but not all LEGO. LEGO kits such as the Star Wars vehicles look cool, but there is nothing creative or experiential about them. Open the box, follow the instructions, build the vehicle. There is no real chance to fail (unless there is a piece missing, which *rarely* happens).
But just as much as much as there is no chance of failure, there is no real chance of excitement or innovation. Sure you could build something else with the pieces, but how many kids do? Modern Meccano is no different, no element of failure. Modern toys aren’t meant to fail. The harsh reality is that failure allows you to get some perspective, and learn from the failure. What we end up with is kids that grow up and have no perspective of what failure is.
But failure is okay, here’s some reasons why:
- Failure is inevitable – Everyone fails at something, sometime in their lives. Ever baked a cake that was a failure? Everyone fails at something, sometime in their lives.
- You learn more from failure than success – Perfection does not exist, everything can benefit from improvements, ever minor ones.
- Failure emboldens risk taking – If you aren’t afraid of failure you might take more risks – you can’t play it safe forever. Failure epitomizes humanities tireless struggle.
- Failure provides new paths – Sometimes things don’t work out, and that allows some reflection, and maybe the realization that alternate paths exist. Failure makes you dig deeper to find new meanings.
However failure in modern society is often deemed a deficiency. It is time to take a different attitude towards failure. Programmers fail all the time – programs fail to compile, and algorithms fail to work. And you know what, it’s ok.