…We often think of failure as a defining moment, because it makes us question our assumptions, and it tests our resolve. In science, it’s the null result that prompts researchers to rethink a hypothesis. In literature, it’s the darkest stage in the hero’s journey that leads to a transformation. In life, it’s the letdown, the breakup, the fiasco that separates those who give up from those who get back up.
But how to fail isn’t always a lesson today’s students are learning. Instead, they are insulated from it.
This is, some say, a generation raised on grade inflation and approbation, lavished with medals for just showing up. A generation bred by so-called helicopter, snowplow, and stealth-fighter parents who intervene to keep them from being cut from the team, overlooked for a summer job, or ignored by an inattentive teacher.
“They haven’t been permitted to fail,” says Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and one of the authors of Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student. These young adults are heading into a world of rapid change: To survive, they’ll have to reinvent themselves after an employer or a career dissolves; to innovate, they’ll have to take chances on new ideas. <Read more.>