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Why failing a class can be a good thing, if we want it to be

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I’ve failed a class before, more than one actually. It’s a dreadful feeling to know that you underperformed. The topic of failing a class is unpopular among many of my friends. Why so? Because it brings along a sense of shame, and the feeling that I don’t want to “look” lower than my peers. Though failing a class may be a bad thing, here is why failing a class can be a good thing.

Dr. Jordan Peterson explains that when students fail a class, the resulting failure represented as a letter grade is simply:

a manifestation of things we claimed irrelevant

What does this mean?

It means that when we fail a class, it doesn’t mean we are incapable of learning in that class. It means that we didn’t prioritize what we were learning in that class, which led to the failure. Failure is not a reflection of incapability. Instead, failure is a reflection of what we found unimportant or uninteresting.

When you receive a failure in the form of a letter grade, it should be a wake up call. Ask yourself this question. Do I care enough about this class to retake it and continue in my field of study? If so, suck in your pride and retake the class. I’ve learned that retaking a class reenforces what we need to know. If you realize that the class material is not important to you, go take another class and learn something else.

There’s a powerful lesson in realizing this. In life, failure is inevitable. We will fail, fail again, and fail again. But the beauty of school is that when you fail, you have the time to access, learn from, and move on from that failure. Failing a class is symbolic of the failures we will have later in life, and can serve as a great teaching if we handle it right.

With the right attitude, failing a class can be a good thing, if we want it to be.

It’s all about attitude.

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