Redefining the "F" word

پکیج: TED Education / سرفصل: سخنرانی های دانش آموزان / درس 7

TED Education

13 سرفصل | 232 درس

Redefining the "F" word

توضیح مختصر

When high school student Analia Wu moved to Argentina, she had to learn Spanish and English at the same time. Even the most basic small talk became exhausting, and Analia was embarrassed by what felt like her verrrry sloooow progress--that is, until a chance encounter taught Analia to embrace failure with courage (and a sense of humor!). Because really, who cares if you can't remember the word for "broccoli"? "Tiny green tree vegetable" is a lot more fun. To find out more about TED-Ed Weekend, go here- To start a TED-Ed Club at your school, visit

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I would like to tell you in advance that you are going to hear me say the s-word a lot. And you are going to hear me say the f-word a lot, too. So, if some of you are sensitive about these words, you may want to leave right now. Okay, I’m going to talk to you about success and failure. What is failure? What is this f-word that people talk about all the time? I would like you to clap twice if you think the things I’m about to say would be a failure in your own lives or in those around you. Clap twice if you think being expelled from school and refused by other schools a failure. Clap twice if you think studying for three years a doctoral exam just to not pass a failure. Clap twice if you think learning a foreign language for five years but still can’t speak complete sentences a failure. Okay, the first person that you might have clapped for was Albert Einstein. Is he a failure? He is known for his success, not for his mistakes. But today, I am not going to talk to you about famous people that we all know. I’m going to talk to you about Gary Green, who most of you may not know, and me, who you just met a few minutes ago. So when I was little, Gary Green went to my school and he delivered a speech about failures. He is the guy who first introduced me to look at failures differently. He said that he failed at his doctoral exam after studying three years of special education. And even worse than that, his wife and he had planned a party to celebrate his passing of the exam, but he was informed that he didn’t pass and needed to complete an additional year of graduate school. As you are thinking about “what is he going to do about the party?” well, I emailed him and asked him just that. He answered by saying it would be cathartic to have a failure party where everyone celebrated various failures in their lives and they just had a great time. After hearing about this story, my mindset completely changed. I thought to myself not passing exams were not the end of the world. So now, I would like you to all think back to our clap twice exercise. Remember the last one? The person who failed at learning a foreign language for five years was me. So would you all look at me right now and call me a failure? When I first went to Argentina, a Spanish-speaking country, I could not speak Spanish, nor English for that matter. I don’t know how many of you had the same experience as I did when I first started to learn a new language. I needed to do a little Google translate in my mind before I could fluently say it out loud. So as you can imagine, my first few friends here were very patient waiting for what I wanted to say. My friend will ask me what did I eat yesterday? Asking about food is the hardest question ever, even harder and mind-provoking than the question, “what is the meaning of life?” How am I supposed to know this little green mini-sized tree is called broccoli? I would have to translate beans, fried chicken and steamed broccoli to my friends. It’s actually a wonder that we’re still friends after all that food talk. Anyway, beyond that, I see native speakers strolling through the halls saying complete sentences and reading a text out loud as if they have practiced in front of the mirror the whole afternoon, while I have first have to search up all the exotic words that I had never seen in my life, click to listen to the pronunciation, and repeat the word several times to remember. I remember for an oral assignment for school how hard I practiced at home, but then when I came to school, the things I was about to say just couldn’t come out of my mouth. I also suffered because of my accent. I remember how people couldn’t understand what I wanted to say and tell me to spell the words. So there I was spelling, “h-o-w-a-r-e-y-o-u, how are you?” Well that kind of conversation would take forever, so I asked my friends to correct me whenever I sounded weird. Gradually, people just stopped asking me simple words like chicken or rice. At first, I thought I was a failure. Maybe I was just not able to speak in public. But now when I look my language learning, I look at all the experiences I had, I realized I wasn’t a failure at all. In fact, I was quite successful in not giving up and going to bed crying every night. Here’s a bit of an odd transition, so just go with me here. Never I did I think that I would be talking about my langauge learning to talk about the founder of Spanx. But, here it is. Sarah Blakely was talking to Forbes Magazine and she defined failure as “not trying,” but I tried extremely hard to learn English. So, in her eyes, I wasn’t a failure. Thank you, founder of Spanx. Astro Teller, the head of X, did a TED talk about his so-called “moonshot factory” where his team and he needed to come up with solutions to solve the world’s biggest problems. Did it work at first? No. He said he failed so many times. But then what did he do? He celebrated his failures. And then what happened? He succeeded. We have heard about so many famous people, successful people, talk about it, but what about kids? The kids that you see on the screen were in a class where everyone gets the same amount of stickers whether they did well or not so well on their exams. Everyone gets a high-five when they learned from their mistakes. And things are phrased very differently in that class. They say they had an “oops moment,” which I personally think is a really good phrase. So, you can’t say that I didn’t warn you that I would be using the f-word all this time. I think TED-Ed Weekend is a really classy and professional event, so I would like to honor the cute fifth graders and use the oops moment from now on. Hey, I haven’t failed, you haven’t failed, we just had a little oops moment. Just as Sarah Blakley, Gary Green, Astro Teller, Albert Einstein and me, every one of us has some oops moments in our lives. But however, instead of considering them as failures, what if we celebrate them? Imagine a world if everyone celebrated our oops moments, imagine if we all have an oops moment party. How will we all change and how will the world be different at the end of the day? I would like to see with a little bit of an experiment. I would like to ask the people in the front row, Hi, can you share an oops moment with me? Flunking a test. Oh, okay, did you learn from it? Definitely. Okay, high-five, that’s great. Hey, that high-five actually feels really good. So now I would like you to turn to the people around you and share one oops moment and high-five them. But just one because I have a speech to finish. Okay, so as I stand here in front of all of you today, sweating, even shivering a little, I still consider myself successful, even though I couldn’t fall asleep yesterday and I might have messed up a couple of lines, but why should I care? I’m doing speeches that I was once scared of, I’m talking to you all using the language I wasn’t confident in. Failure? Yeah right!

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