Landscape of Failure

Submitted By:
Laura Reardon, Chandler School, Pasadena, CA

Right Kind of Wrong by Amy C. Edmondson
Atria Books, September 5, 2023

Despite educators’ best efforts, which include continual discussions of growth mindset and the benefits of learning from one’s mistakes, a fear of failure persists at independent schools. What might we accomplish if we overcame our fear of being wrong and instead learned how to fail well? Renowned author and researcher, Amy C. Edmondson, answers this question in her new book, Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well. Edmondson has made the study of teams and psychological safety her life’s work. In this text, Edmondson uses salient examples to help readers better understand the three kinds of failure: basic, complex, and intelligent. Intelligent failures are those that have led to some of the most influential accomplishments in history. The first part of her text describes the overall landscape of failure while the second half provides insights into the key competencies that she argues we need to “practice the science of failing well.” Edmondson asserts that “failing well, perhaps living well, requires us to become vigorously humble and curious — a state that does not come naturally to adults.” This text empowers its readers to define their own complicated relationships with failure and develop the capacity to harness mistakes as part of the process of discovery.

Science of Learning
Teaching Practice
Leadership Practice