W4W: A lesson in how to fail

Teacher in a classroom with a chalkbaord

Image: Pixabay

‘What does it mean to fail?’

Mr Franklin scans the class, not making eye contact with anyone, pretending he’s waiting for a response, but really just leaving enough of a gap so he looks like he’s waiting.

‘I don’t mean the dictionary definition,’ he says. ‘I can Google that.’

He chuckles as if to say hey, kids I use the net to look stuff up just like you do. I’m such a rebel. No one laughs. Another wait.

‘What I mean is,’ he perches on the edge of his desk, pushing a stack of papers aside with his butt, ‘what does it mean to you to fail.’ He picks a pen up, stabs the air with it. ‘To a world renowned pianist, failure might mean a missed note during a Chopin recital. To a Premiership goalie it might mean letting a ball in the net during a cup match.’ He takes a breath, taps his teeth with the pen. ‘To a parent, failure might mean a child in prison, or on heroin.’ There’s a triumphant glint in his eye for daring to mention drugs to a class of fifteen years olds. ‘I want you to write 500 words on what failure means to you.’

He jumps up from his desk, the kids surrounding me sigh, take out their books.

I pick up my pen, take off the lid. I open my exercise book at a fresh clean page and write in letters big enough to fill the space,



Today’s W4W is brought to you by the verb FAIL.  NOT the noun.

Let me assure readers, there will be no use of FAIL as a noun on this blog – epic or other wise.

Thanks to Kat, true blogging pal and originator of W4W.

For those interested, see the link to follow fail‘s journey from verb to noun through interjection to adjective.


17 thoughts on “W4W: A lesson in how to fail

  1. Oh, I feel so bad for poor Mr Franklin, trying to do his best and the kids make fun of him. Thankless job, teaching. No matter what you do you’re always going to have someone in the class who hates you. It’s like being a comedian — drives you to drink!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know how people do it, TBH. I’m sure that’s why you find some older teachers looking rather embittered, staring at the kids as if they’re the devil incarnate. Which it seems sometimes they are 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Pretty much is one of my short stories I think … Yes, kids can be rotten little swines. Think of all those sweet, hopefull teachers wanting to help young people and improve the world being slowly ground down by cheek, unwillingness to learn and sometimes violence too. Every teacher needs a medal 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha, how I hated those teachers pretending to be like us when they were clearly ancient. Funnily enough, I’d probably look at them today and wonder if they’re old enough to be in charge of a bunch of rowdy teenagers 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ouch! I was very much on Mr. Franklin’s side. How terrible that one of his students would write that. However, I’m probably Mr. Franklin’s age now, and when I was the age of his students, I probably would have been the one who wrote ‘Mr. Franklin.’ I remember my high school English teacher, Mrs. Wilson, who made us write in our journals every day. I usually wrote about how much I disliked Mrs. Wilson’s class, and the people in it, and how her making us write in this stupid journal was so stupid. Oh, poor Mrs. Wilson. Poor Mr. Franklin. I wish I could write to them both right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kids are cruel. And they spot any weakness and exploit it terribly, don’t they? My son has a teacher who really tries to be cool and really isn’t. That’s okay at the moment as my son’s 12 and hasn’t spoted this poor man wilting under the strain yet. But in a couple of year’s time …
      Maybe Mrs Wilson didn’t mind so much if your writing was of a high enough standard 🙂 I’m sure she had a lot worse than your complaining. You surprise me that you didn’t enjoy English lessons – was she a bad teacher? That can be enough to turn any of us off a subject we might otherwise love.


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