Bernard Fryshman, professor of physics at NY Institute of Technology wrote about failure in the September 16 issue of Education Week. Professor Fryshman reminds us of the very ugly connotation of failure in public school settings. What he suggests is that we reframe our undertanding of children from "failing" to being a "poor fit" for our current education system. He writes -
Poor fit, rather than failure, characterizes much of modern society. Just a few generations ago, people developed positive self-image, a career and worth in the eyes of society by becoming musicians, calligraphers, printers and mechanics. Every one of these opportunities has shrunk, and with rare exceptions such positions now demand more intellectual than manual skills.
Professor Fryshman's article immediately brings to mind the dancers and actors I have known, many of whom struggled with the unforgiving boundaries of public education. As reframed by Professor Fryshman, it was not that they were failures at school. It was that school was a poor fit for them.
When we include the arts for every child in school, we dismiss the negative mantle of "failure", understand the poor fit and open doors to learning. Professor Fryshman reminds us that "we must think about children as individuals, rather than members of an undifferentiated whole." Words by which to build a school and provide an education.