My Co-Op Experience: Daring to Fail in Order to Achieve


By Anna Parkes


“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert Kennedy


Full disclosure, readers of An Focal – I can be quite hesitant to try new things. My hesitation is enhanced by the prospect of failure. Thus the above quote is my personal motivation while on work experience at the Learning Hub, Limerick. I aim to dive headfirst into as many new experiences as possible. If I spend my life avoiding failure, how can I ever achieve the greatness I so desire?


I first dipped a hesitant toe into the choppy waters of uncertainty by assisting with the Music Hub programme. This may not seem too ambitious – however, you have (hopefully) never heard me sing. If you have, I apologise sincerely, and please send on any medical bills regarding damaged eardrums. To my immense surprise, my time at the Music Hub was actually very enjoyable! No, I was probably not as useful as the stellar team at the head of the Music Hub – James, Ger and Ayeesha. However, the children honestly could not care less that I am never going to be the top-selling artist on iTunes.


They were just delighted that I was willing to pitch in and try my best. Together, we giggled our way through some entertaining (albeit confusing!) tongue- twisters. To finish warming up, we played some simple games designed to improve our rhythm and timing. Then came the main event, as we launched into a rousing rendition of “Starman” by the recently deceased musical icon, David Bowie. Ok, I may have missed a few of the higher notes. But this “new experiences” method was off to a good start. In the words of Bowie himself – “I’m an instant star, just add water.”


Maybe it was the positive vibe that engulfs the Music Hub. Perhaps it was my own unfounded false bravado. Whatever the reason, I find myself signing up to learn the ukulele with my fellow co-op students. James is our mentor, and just as patient with us as he is with the children he teaches. Some of my fellow colleagues take to the quirky instrument with admirable ease. To my dismay, no amount of patience can encourage me. It is not long before I discover that the skill of ukulele playing will never be in my repertoire.


My slight musical mishap has not utterly discouraged me. In the fast-paced environment of the Learning Hub, it is not long before another new experience works its way into my line of sight. I embark on my greatest challenge yet – running a creative writing class with just one other co-op student. We are undoubtedly excited to be offered such a fantastic opportunity. Yet the thrill of opportunity is often inextricably intertwined with the terror of responsibility. It would be a blatant lie to deny the tang of nerves in the air as the time for our class approached.


Thankfully, nerves are swiftly dismissed. The children seem to really embrace our class on character development. After a quick chat about our favourite characters, the students settle down to craft their own tales. It is a wonderful showcase of imagination, with characters ranging from a spy on the run to an imposter fashion designer! You never know, we could be in the company of the next generations J.K Rowling!


I’ve been granted an invaluable lesson in the past couple of weeks. Throwing yourself into new experiences will inevitably lead to a few failures. (See ukulele – related mishaps.) However, then I consider the warm glow of achievement that comes from helping the creativity of children flourish. In my humble opinion, failing greatly is undeniably worth the pleasure of achieving greatly.