Failure and learning

The last few months I’ve been thinking about the relationship between failure and entrepreneurship. Just now I’m listening to a podcast and that old point came up: going to prison teaches you how to be a better criminal. You’d think that failed criminals would be the last sort of people to learn from, but really it’s just about the perfect sort of school. The general assumption is that people in prison have high discount rates, so they probably came into prison with one thing on their mind: what the hell went wrong with that last scheme?! So you’ve got dozens of people who all screwed up and that’s all their thinking about. That’s a whole lot better than you would get at a university; nobody at a school is thinking about how they screwed up, they’re thinking about how stupid other people are!

So the question is: how could you set up a system where the incentives of K-grad school teachers are constantly thinking about mistakes they’ve made and are able to pass those lessons on to their students? Sounds like science fiction to me.

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