"Become who you are" went an ancient adage. Learning should lead to an independence of mind built on solid knowledge and a capacity for critical thinking. Unfortunately, ours is a society where doing well on examinations and standardized tests has grown so overemphasized that we have forgotten the importance for a young person to simply flounder about, try out various daydreams, make and learn from mistakes. "It is a rule of God's Providence," said John Henry Newman, "that we succeed by failure." Certainly the motto for any school, for any student of whatever age, should be Samuel Beckett's noble paradox: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
--Michael Dirda, Book by Book: Notes of Reading and Life