The Importance of “Failing”

by: Orion Couling

One of the hardest parts of my teaching style is that I might let your kid “fail” at performance. I won’t always save them from messing up the lines or forgetting their blocking or choreography. I will train them as hard as they want to train but their decision to succeed must be theirs to make. I will reinforce good decision making. I will provide every possible path to success but they must rise or fall on their own.

Alot of parents have real difficulty separating their own success from their child. Whether they see the child’s work as a reflection of their parenting or they manifest their own fears of success or failure in the child’s, the performance becomes a battleground not of the child’s efforts over months of rehearsals but of the parents view of themselves.

This doesn’t make the parent a bad person or a bad parent – merely human. It is a perfect, normal behavior pattern.

What I ask parents to understand is that I’m breaking normal behavior patterns. Your child is not learning theater with me. They are learning socializing, decision making, the ethics of romance, role modeling, exploring catharsis and so much more.

The solo…the one you are worried about? Doesn’t matter to me. The costume, the one I get emails of incredible anxiety, doesn’t matter to me. What your child does back stage in their interactions with other children? This is my true battleground. And sometimes we succeed. And sometimes we fail. Just like onstage.

And that failing is vital.

So next time you look over and your child’s shirt is unbuttoned or buttoned wrong, or they are dropping lines like leaves from a tree in October and you can clearly see I’m not helping, you know why. It isn’t because I don’t love and respect you and your child. It’s quite the opposite. I love and respect you both enough to let you both fail.

Thank you Lindsey Miller for posting the original essay that inspired these morning musings.