I’m ashamed to see how long it is since I last updated this blog, I’ve been busy on some very exciting e-learning projects, and  working as a member of the IATEFL Conference committee. One of my highlights was working with Ken Wilson to organise the Failure Fest evening at the Liverpool conference, and reading the various reviews made me feel very proud.   I was inspired to suggest the Failure Fest event after attending a similar event of that name organised by Nesta late in 2012, in which presenters shared their experiences of failure and learning in various educational contexts. You can see the video of our event at IATEFL Online.

We were also inspired by this video of J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech on failure (thanks to Carol Read, IATEFL President):


Like J.K. Rowling, our speakers all seem super confident and  very funny (though they are not quite so wealthy), they are all brilliant teachers and presenters. But like Rowling, beforehand they were  petrified, and had spent a lot of time reflecting on their lives as learners and teachers, wondering what stories they could share so publicly.   And reflecting on their failures brought back memories of very real and painful experiences.   But I suppose their willingness to reflect on failure, and share it, is part of what makes these individuals successful, and the audience that evening appreciated their willingness to do this. I think from hearing the comments afterwards, and seeing the comments in the links below showed that we were successful in our objectives for the evening, we wanted to be entertaining, but we wanted to encourage people to reflect on their own failure stories. And in doing so I think a few people may have exorcised a few demons in the process.


You can find some excellent summaries via Chia Suan Chong’s excellent blog and links to reviews of the evening. Chia also posted a great quote from Tintin:

Failed? They are plenty of others willing to call you a failure, a fool, a loser…but don’t you ever see it of yourself!
You send out the wrong signals, that’s what people pick up.
You care about something you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it.
There’s something you need to know about failure: you can never let it defeat you.

Captain Haddock, The Adventures of Tintin

You can read more about the evening from Chia’ summaries, reproduced here:

Damian Williams on the Tailor Made English blogsite

Patricia Amada Alarco-Vizcarra’s photo journal and Lu Boderman’s highlights.

Sophia Khan’s blogpost wrote about the reasons why she found the Failure Fest brilliant, starting from the celebration of failures as an opportunity for reflection to the fact that the sharing of a personal emotional experience like a failure allows us to focus on our similarities than our differences.

Josette LeBlanc’s blogsite Throwing Back Tokens  expressed her sense of relief while having a bit of fun through each of the guest presenter’s sharing storied of their failure to show their vulnerability.

Ann Loseva’s blogpost was a clear example of how the Failure Fest went on to inspire teachers to reflect on and share the failures they have experienced.