The idea of a failure conclave needs to be applauded
A society that attaches a large premium on success also places an enormous amount of pressure on students who are afraid of failureeditorials Updated: Dec 31, 2017 20:04 IST
When Charlie Chaplin said: “Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of oneself,” he may not have envisioned the importance an institute in Dehradun would one day place on failure and seek out those who’ve failed. Last week the hill town’s Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra hosted a ‘Failure Conclave.’ The speakers had to measure up to just one criterion: They should have failed more than once in academic examinations and gone on to achieve remarkable success in whatever vocation they chose to pursue. One of them was a professor from Meerut who had failed in physics in the intermediate exam. “This did not dissuade me. I completed my doctorate in the subject and went on to teach it,” said the academic, who has a number of students doing PhD in physics under his guidance. Another speaker said he had failed thrice in a class and eventually became the principal of the same school.
A society that sets a large premium on success also places an enormous amount of pressure on students who are afraid to fail. This may push some of them towards taking their own lives. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, one student commits suicide in India every hour. In the five years leading to 2015, 39,775 students killed themselves. The growing frequency of student suicides is a matter of concern. In his radio address in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to talk about depression and seek help if needed.
To pull suicidal young people back from the brink, their peers, friends and family need to bust the myth that academic success is the final goal of our existence. Also, failures can spur one towards eventual success if we don’t throw in the towel. There is some merit to giving people a second chance, or even a third one. A number of innovators, including Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, stumbled before going on to create some of the biggest inventions that today occupy a significant place in our lives. Author JK Rowling became a household name a few years after 12 big publishers had rejected the Harry Potter manuscript. Edison failed more than 10,000 times but didn’t give up before inventing a commercially viable electric bulb. Apart from bookish knowledge, our education system should equip students with life skills that can come in handy when they are fighting the demons in their heads. Which is why, the idea of a failure conclave needs to be applauded.
First Published: Dec 31, 2017 20:03 IST