Failure 102: The Love of Ish

Last week I asked you to think about the things you do to help your students prepare for, and survive, the times their creative risks don’t play out the ways they’d hoped. Having things fail or getting things wrong is part of human nature–part of life– part of creativity. It was facinating to learn that self-described “wrongologist” Kathryn Schultz spends a lot of her professional effort talking to people about what happens when they are just wrong. If you’d like to hear her talk about it, check out her TED talk, On Being Wrong.

But taking creative risks isn’t just about making errors. It is about setting goals, trying something that is uncertain, and being willing to let things crash if they must. Thinking about those moments, it becomes clear they place us in a delicate balance. There is a yin/yang sway between helping students set challenging goals and pointing them toward paralyzed perfectionism.

One book that I love to help start discussions about this balance is Ish by Peter Reynolds. It may resonate with me because of my own visual-arts fears, but I’ve also seen it light the eyes of students from primary grades to adulthood. Ish is about a young boy, Ramon, who loves to draw. But a careless comment leaves him floundering until his younger sister Marisol points out that his drawing may not look exactly like a vase, but it is vase-ish. Scholastic books offers a YouTube preview if you’d like a taste of the story.

But, of course, it is never quite that clear. I don’t want students telling me that the Civil War started in 1860ish—at least I don’t think I do. What do you think? When is “Ish” appropriate beyond drawing?

But before I leave you with that question, let me share two more gifts from Peter Reynolds—his website and blog. One of the great illusions of successful creative people is that they do it all easily, with few of the struggles encountered by the rest of us. In the website and blog Peter shares insights about his process and encourages everyone—but especially children—to find the creativity they have to share. He’s definitely a Creativiteach-er!

4 thoughts on “Failure 102: The Love of Ish

  1. I really enjoyed that TED talk On Being Wrong.

    I had a math education professor talk about good wrong answers. She would always ask for right answers (looking for multiple strategies) and then she’d ask for good wrong answers. I thought it was a good teaching strategy.


  2. Pingback: Mistakes Have a Lot to Teach Us | creativiteach

  3. Pingback: What’s in the HUTCH? A Chance for Creativity! | creativiteach

  4. Pingback: Habits for Creativity: Learning from Failure, Doing Hard Things | creativiteach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s