Fail better

I have Beckett’s quotation (“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”) on the wall of my classroom.  (Perhaps you know the impressive literary magazine that is this passage’s namesake.)  I’ve also become a fan of Nerd Fitness, a charming fitness/life website where I get lots of reminders of how important it is to Fail More, Suck Less (that one’s for you, What Now?).

We seem to be at a cultural moment, if I may speak grandly, at which we are reminding ourselves of the importance of failure.  Today the New York Times reviews Henry Petroski’s To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, which would be a great gift for a student headed off to study engineering.  And in Slate a couple of months ago, Timothy Noah reviewed a selection of 2012 commencement speakers and propsed an alternate list of people who really have something to tell students about coping with setbacks.

(Of course, the list of actual commencement speakers is also full of people who have survived failures–in some cases, rather large and public ones.  Have a look.)

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