I just finished reading an article about Eric Reis who is the guru of the lean start-up method for developing a business. The basic idea is to build a baseline business strategy, test it immediately in the marketplace and then improve or rewrite or abandon or pivot (as he would say). The idea is that failure drives success.
This got me thinking about the place of failure in education. As classroom instructors we can structure our days so that we get immediate feedback using one minute papers, or clickers and the like and then change the course of the session based on what we have found out. We can analyze our tests for weak sections and resolve to change certain lectures or homework exercises. All this on an individual basis but wouldn’t it be useful to know how other instructors failed with the same material in similar classes. Science researchers don’t get recognition for publishing their unsuccessful experiments and doctors certainly are not rewarded for admitting an incorrect diagnosis. The education system doesn’t encourage teachers discuss their unsuccessful methods of instruction. This is unlikely to change since teacher evaluations are biased toward find things wrong instead of applauding those people who willingly takes risks and therefore often fail.