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ERIC Number: EJ941505
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-1529-8957
Constructive Failure in Mathematics Classes
Rowlett, Joel E.
Principal Leadership, v11 n8 p36-39 Apr 2011
Great strides in the real world are usually accompanied by failure. Mathematics teachers should accept some failure as their students take risks during mathematical explorations. This is not to imply that students should fail an entire course, but they should have opportunities to take risks that may lead to failure, especially in the area of problem solving. To be constructive, failure must be handled carefully. Most people can recall a moment when someone's critical eye and scathing comments quenched any thirst for creativity. Mathematics classrooms should be progressive and student-centered. When a student answers a question incorrectly, the teacher should use that mistake as an opportunity to guide the student toward the correct answer. A progressive classroom is also rigorous. Intellectual rigor is work that enables students to reach their highest individual potential through challenging and engaging problem-solving activities. The students should be routinely challenged and must synthesize their knowledge to formulate new ideas. Rather than offer the traditional, algorithmic approach to teaching mathematics, the teacher's role during problem posing is to serve as a mentor who guides students as they exercise the thought-processing skills that enable them to become lifelong learners. To pose problems and foster creativity, teachers must encourage students to work through their failures and correct their thinking. Teachers should employ a rubric whereby students are applauded for creativity, risk taking, and collaboration.
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A