It is natural to see success as positive and failure as negative. No one enjoys feelings of defeat, humiliation and embarrassment. However, there are benefits associated with failing that must be recognized and analyzed by both instructors and trainees. Primarily: self-growth and learning.
A person can learn through a successful situation, though not as much as through failure. It is through consistent failure that a person re-works the problem, recognizes previous pitfalls and finds new solutions. In short, this is where the real learning occurs. Granted, examining failures in-depth is emotionally unpleasant. Since it takes time to properly wade through the event and analyze where mistakes occurred, people often speed through or skip the analysis before repeating the same mistakes as they aim for success. Here are a few ways both trainees and instructors can learn from failure:
Building a Better Environment
Failure is best described as a spectrum. Reasons for failure range from foolishness to admirable: deviance, inattention, lack of ability, uncertainty, hypothesis testing, exploratory testing, etc. While a trainee testing a new de-escalation tactic is more noble than foolish, both can result in failure and must be treated with the same analysis.
As mentioned before, instructors must create an environment where failure is regarded as a teaching moment and not severely punished and mocked. Creating an excessively negative environment causes trainees to fear failure more than normal, resulting in an unwanted shift in behavior. This includes: not really trying, attempting to downplay their responsibilities and shifting blame to others.
Instead, a training environment in which failure is documented and discussed results in better learning for both the individual trainee and the class. Constantly reviewing the mistake and proper courses of action helps each person to self-reflect and change their actions before entering a situation or scenario. In addition, reviewing also helps move the information from short-term memory to long-term.
Developing a Growth Mindset
When analyzing failure, instructors must go beyond the obvious and superficial reasons to understand the root cause. In regards to trainees, failure is likely to be caused by a lack of experience or knowledge. But taking a closer look may show a training scar or inability to perform an action that must be remedied immediately. An in-depth analysis requires discipline to ensure the right lessons are taught, remedies are employed and trainees are behaving accordingly. This is more hands-on, personal and often necessitates putting in more time.
These actions may be atypical of law enforcement instructor roles, but effective leaders try new tactics and techniques, often failing themselves as they learn the best teaching strategies. A growth mindset results in a constant teaching evolution as the instructor learns which teaching styles work for them and those they serve.
Failure, when analyzed correctly, can be a powerful tool in the classroom. Through VirTra’s simulations, instructors can show moments of failure, which can then be re-enacted perfectly. As trainees learn and make new choices, VirTra’s branching options can unveil a better outcome based on their decisions. These components, and more, ensure trainees learn the correct information and mindset before entering the field. Contact us to learn more about VirTra simulations and how they enrich training.