Failing to succeed: the value of failure in creativity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Creativity is often aligned, in the academic literature and in policy, with desired 21st century skills. Creativity is also positioned as a vital part of education for digital futures and for the technology-driven learning settings and work lives that students will inevitably face. However, often missing in the writing and the rhetorics about creativity is the link between creativity and failure. We contend that an affirmative view of failure within education, and the designing of learning environments that recognise productive failure, is vital. The affirmation of failure as a pedagogical principle is an integral part of not only fostering creativity in students but also preparing them for the sorts of adaptations and flexibility they need in an environment of technological change. Research and policy development about the affordances of failure in facilitating creativity within education are much neglected, especially in an educational climate of caution and standardisation. In this conceptual and position paper we critically examine and affirm the place of productive failure as a pedagogical principle for promoting creativity. This pedagogical principle can be supported by four operational strategies: 1. Purposeful learning environments, 2. Assertive agency about mistakes, 3. Possibility thinking, and 4. Reflexivity following failure. We also offer possibilities of what a failure-textured and technological-oriented classroom might look like, including its design features.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSITE 2019
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference
EditorsKevin Graziano
Place of PublicationWaynesville NC USA
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781939797377
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
EventSociety for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2019 - Las Vegas, United States of America
Duration: 18 Mar 201922 Mar 2019


ConferenceSociety for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleSITE 2019
CountryUnited States of America
CityLas Vegas
Internet address


  • creativity
  • risk
  • Failure
  • Digital technologies
  • Pedagogy
  • Teaching and Learning

Cite this