An e-zine published by the McGill Library & Information Studies Student Association (MLISSA)

There is no win and no fail

Alanna MacNevin

The idea of failure has been pervading my days. That is to say, I have been encountering and re-encountering the importance of trial and error and the philosophy of 'practice makes perfect'.

The innovative and the smart have caught on to this idea. Google encourages employees to pursue any 'what if' project that interests them. Google in turn benefits from the ideas that are generated from new projects – explaining the reason for why Google is so ubiquitous.

Another example is the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. This institution encourages young post-docs to explore their own ideas rather than simply follow or assist senior researchers. This practice has lead to the development of ideas that challenge the conventional understanding of the history of the universe (and I'm sure there are many other implications with such findings that are utterly beyond my comprehension) (a good article about this here.)

This idea (the benefits of failure) can be seen again in Free Schools. These are decentralized networks that encourage self-reliance, critical consciousness, and personal development. Free Schools understand that individuals have different ways of learning and that everyone has something to teach. They encourage people to interact with material, to try ideas, and explore their interests.

Ours is a dynamic field and our roles, once we graduate, mutable.

It would be easy to point out that the way that we learn about this dynamic, mutable field doesn't reflect its nature. Students stressing about grades are not likely to get the full benefit of the skills they are studying; but this is the way schools are structured (in general).

For me, another approach involves decide how to make the curriculum adjust to my interests, dive-in and figure out how to fail (without significant implications to my grade point average).

enjoy.

old blue man by Andrea Koteles
This was the ‘inspiration’ for my ‘editorial’ (quotations imply my uneasiness with using these terms). I found the rules here but it was created by www.corita.org/.

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