TED Talks in the Classroom: The Great Power of Failure

TED released two of my favorite talks from the 2012 conference this week — both with important messages about the power of failure in science and innovation. Both Regina Dugan of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Donald Sadoway, an inventor and MIT professor, shine a bright light on the power of experimentation and the courage to fail.


Pair these talks in the classroom, and ask students these questions:

What role did failure play in the success of both Regina Dugan and Donald Sadoway?

How has failure played a beneficial role in your life?

Do you think schools give students enough opportunities to experiment, fail, and try again?

What would you do if you knew that failure was impossible? (from Regina Dugan’s TED talk)

And one more talk on failure – from one of the most successful writers of all time –


And finally…an article to share. How might the emphasis on success in standardized testing be affecting students’ ability to experiment and learn?