High School, Please Let me Fail

Failure isn’t such a bad prospect

By Rohit Dilip | Humor Editor

High school feels a lot like playing a board game. Not Monopoly, where a player succeeds or fails—it’s more akin to playing a cooperative game where every player wins. Follow the rules of high school, and you will succeed. While high school continues to play this way, no student really wins out.

In the past three years I’ve been at Irvington, I’ve noticed that there’s a strong mentality against failing. Failing at anything—a class, a sport, or any sort of activity—is seen as wrong, and the school goes out of their way to help us avoid failing. For example, teachers often discourage students from taking too many high-rigor classes, in fear of students overextending and performing badly. This attitude isn’t beneficial, because it discourages accepting challenges out of fear of failure.

Failing often follows overextending ones capabilities and challenging oneself to do better. If a student never fails, then that student has never challenged themselves. As long as Irvington perpetuates this mentality against failure, students will never challenge themselves fully and reach their full potential. Failure is a natural part of life—accepting it now will lead to greater achievements in the future.

For Irvington to remove this image of failure, administration, teachers, and students need to be more willing to allow students to challenge and extend themselves. Consequentially, we need to be open to students that reach their limits and need to back down. Policies against switching out of AP classes, for example, are detrimental to student success because they leave students with no room to back away once they commit to a challenge. While changing such policies often brings logistical issues, these are infinitely preferable to discouraging failure.

I never really did like board games, but it strikes me now that there’s no point in playing a board game where everyone is a winner just for following the rules. So please, high school, won’t you let me fail a little?