GSE Events

GPN Speaker Series with Dr. Eric Toshalis

Add to Calendar Icon 2024-07-12 11:00 2024-07-12 12:15 15 Penn GSE Event: GPN Speaker Series with Dr. Eric Toshalis Join the Global Possibility Network (GPN) for a transformative talk by Dr. Eric Toshalis on reimagining how our education system views failure. He will discuss how mistakes can be catalysts for growth rather than barriers to success and explore innovative approaches to replace grading, ranking, and punishment in schools, advocating for systems that nurture potential and inspire excellence.
Jacqueline Joyce DD/MM/YYYY
Friday, July 12, 2024 - 11:00am to 12:15pm

This event will be recorded.

We aspire to do great things, but we can only accomplish those through opportunity, effort, experimentation, and failure. The possibilities we open for ourselves — and others — depend in large part on how our botched attempts are received and understood. In this way, mistakes are catalysts, moving us toward ever more sophisticated and effective ways of moving in and acting on the world.

Unfortunately, schools far too often treat failures and errors as evidence of intrinsic capacity. Mistakes become indictments rather than new pathways toward possibility. Failures legitimate lowered expectations and restricted opportunities instead of differentiated supports. And (mis)behavior is understood as character flaw rather than an opportunity to grow and repair. These misinterpretations have enormous implications for youth who are daily exploring possibilities in identity, vocation, community, relationship, and purpose in their academic and social experiences in school. Students from non-dominant groups are particularly vulnerable to the effects of having mistakes essentialized as denunciations of their potential. Consequently, examining how we apprehend and tend failure is a crucial component in any effort to achieve excellence, equity, and/or justice in education.

In this talk, Dr. Eric Toshalis will argue that failure should be an opening of possibility, not its foreclosure. Moving from theory to practice, he will consider three main systems through which possibility is routinely extinguished in our schools: grading, ranking, and punishing. Dr. Toshalis will illuminate the possibilities that are unlocked when we dismantle these systems and replace them with liberating, responsive, inspiring, and developmentally rich approaches.

Speaker Bio:

Eric Toshalis has served in a variety of teaching and leadership roles in and around public secondary school classrooms for over three decades. In addition to his many peer-reviewed and practitioner-oriented articles, webinars, and online resources, Toshalis is the author of the award-winning book, Make Me! Understanding and Engaging Student Resistance in School (2015), and is co-author with Michael J. Nakkula of the widely used text, Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators (2006), both by Harvard Education Press. His next co-authored book, to be released by Pearson this summer, is the 13th edition of Comprehensive Classroom Management: Creating Communities of Support and Solving Problems. Dr. Toshalis provides equity-focused independent scholarship and education consulting for a range of clients at

Event Contact

Jacqueline Joyce