Today in Math Art, my middle schoolers continued to work on a variety of paper folding activities. Some of them hit snags. Making a piece for a kusudama proved difficult. A first attempt at a hexaflexagon was a sticky crumpled mess. More advanced hexflexagoneers encountered obstacles in creating longer strips of equilateral triangles.
“I’m terrible at origami!”—this and similar sentiments were voiced.
It both broke my heart and made me smile a little. These are projects that I know they’re excited about. They chose and in some cases found these activities themselves. They really want to succeed and were only finding frustration and failure. And a part of me was worried that these setbacks might put them off from origami.
But the smiling part of me knows that failure is an inevitable part of learning and a mark of authentic engagement. Of course her first kusudama piece was errant and wrinkly. Of course his first attempt at making a long strip of equilateral triangles was too rough cut to work. And so I told them this, and that they shouldn’t be discouraged, and that their next attempts would be better.
And then they smiled, too.