The Shocking Truth about Creativity –Failure is Compulsory

The Shocking Truth about Creativity

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. -Sir Ken Robinson

Answer these three questions-

  1. Is creativity really such an important skill?

  2. Why do you want to teach creativity?

  3. What if your students were not creative?

These are extremely important questions. Because, you see, creativity just cannot be taught. It is cultivated.

If you were searching for creativity tips, I am sorry, but – this is not the post. This post is about promoting risk-taking behavior and accepting failure. It answers the question – Why you must allow your students to make mistakes and encourage them to take risks. We know – not an easy option; but the results – for sure – would be deeply fulfilling. And, it would help you cultivate creativity.


Why teachers must allow students to make mistakes?

A common trouble that we face with teachers is that they tend to minimize the mistakes students make. They emphasize over correct responses, and prefer discipline to risk-taking behavior.  Does it help foster creative behavior? The truth is- more a teacher reinforces a student with the fear of making mistakes, more he pushes them away from creativity.


Willingly, allow your students to make mistakes

Creative process is inherently risky, and failure is an integral part of risk-taking behavior.  Truth is, failure is never final, creative people often fail multiple times before they find a successful idea.


Without failure there is no sweetness is success. There is no understanding of it.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas A Edison

If you, as teachers, want your students to be creative – you must, willingly, allow your students to make mistakes.  As per Alane Jordan Starko, the author of Creativity in the Classroom, “If your classroom is not a place where it’s safe to make mistakes, ask questions and wonder, then it doesn’t matter if on Friday afternoon you ask those students to be creative. It’s not going to happen.” She adds, “You need to have a creativity-friendly and a creativity-supportive atmosphere.

Creativity demands exploration. In your classrooms, students should feel safe enough to try new things, explore various ideas, experiment and try more alternatives. Most importantly, they shouldn’t be afraid to fail.

Once students feel free from the fear of failure, they feel safe to experiment with new ideas. They begin exploring the concepts. They start taking ownership of their work. This further encourages students to make high level choices. It is this process which leads to non-predetermined results. It is this behavior that leads to creative and unpredictable solutions.


Playing it safe is not OK

You must create a classroom atmosphere where students feel that making mistakes is acceptable, and they can leave work unfinished for later completion if they take time to explore and do their best.


How to encourage risk-taking in the classroom

If you have implemented ‘a culture of tolerance’ in your classroom, students would be less afraid of failure, and eventually, they would learn to trust themselves. Moreover, they would learn to accept the process of solving problems.

Process is more important than outcome

  1. Act Model creative values for them. Children develop creativity not when you tell them to, but when teachers show them.

  2. Allow Give them time and space to play with concepts, and engage in challenging activities. Genius hour could be a good initiative.

  3. Engage Engage them with challenging real-life problems. Activities that allow experimentation and discussion.

  4. Encourage Give importance to their risk-taking behavior. Recognize their efforts, experimentations, and failures.

  5. Reflect Allow students to reflect on their failures and mistakes. Allow them to review the efforts of their peers, and their failures. Join their discussions, and help them understand what they did, and why did they do it.


Standardized testing or not, if you want your students to succeed, you have to cultivate a creative mindset in your classroom. And, it cannot happen unless you purposefully allow them to explore, experiment, fail and reflect.

Fear of failure can chain a lot of hands, and unless you intentionally create a classroom climate where students feel comfortable making mistakes, creativity just won’t happen.

Frankly, creativity is an attitude.

Students need to develop a flexible mindset. They should grow to be willing to play with concepts, experiment with new ideas. Such an attitude requires that the students learn to take risks, and learn to accept the reality that failure is an integral part of the problem-solving process. Without creativity, there is no lasting success.


Without failure, there is no sweetness in success. There is no understanding of it.”- Glenn Beck

Without failure there is no sweetness in success. There is no understanding of it.

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