From Failure To Success and Back Again

By: M.S.
Sometimes, you need to fail before you can succeed.  Teachers and parents should be open to the idea of using failure as a way toward their student’s success.  Parents and teachers need to push their students to strive for their best.


Most parents tell their students that good grades are important for a successful future, and as a student, I would hate to let my parents down.  However, those students who don’t have a similar fear of failure need a wake-up call.  This wake-up call could come from parent/teacher collaboration.  Parents and teachers can work together to boost their students grades by having the teacher threaten an F to a slacking student while the parents back the teacher up at home, encouraging their student to work hard to bring their grades back up to speed.


Many students want to see an A on their report cards at the end of a semester even if they don’t want to put in the effort.  By threatening an F, teachers can kick-start a student into hard work, making them take initiative in order to achieve straight A’s.  The teachers can motivate the students with the threat of failure in order to help the student put in the necessary effort.

According to Harvard University’s Student Handbook Grades and Honors a D+, D, or D- as “…work that is unsatisfactory but that indicates some minimal command of the course materials and some minimal participation in class activities that is worthy of course credit toward the degree.“

The minimal passing grade is a D, but a large number of students have begun to receive straight A’s that anything less is seen as undesired.  Peer pressure has put so much stress on students to receive A’s that if a teacher threatened an F, many students would use it as a wake-up call to get it together and achieve those A’s.

However, there are always exceptions.  Some students don’t care about their grades as much as they should.  Some students give up at the first sign of the big, bad F.  Therefore, the use of failing a student in order to motivate them to receive an A would be completely ineffective.  Using failure would hurt these students more than help.

Although some people may believe that failure is ineffective, it should still be utilized to help students be successful because there are many students who need failure in order for them to succeed.  Many students need to be failed in order for them to have an effective and a useful education for the future.  Mary Sherry, an adult-literacy program teacher who has written on the topic of educational problems for various newspapers, quotes her students in one of her essays, In Praise of the F Word.  In her essay, she writes that many students comment, “I should have been held back.”  Others say, “I don’t know how I ever got a high-school diploma.”  These are but two examples of success leading to failure.

If you do not even attempt to try, you cannot fail, but you also cannot succeed.  William Edward Hickson, a British educational writer advised, “’Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again.”