Adam Savage reminds students to embrace failures, look for possibilities

The former co-host of “MythBusters” detailed his own failures which led to success

An age-old question pesters the population every time rain blows into town: “Is it dangerous to shower during a thunderstorm?”

“MythBusters” co-host Adam Savage found the answer during the television run, busting the myth. Through continued commitment to answering the public’s questions, Savage spoke in Cox Auditorium at the University of Tennessee Friday, Sept. 21 as a part of the Mossman Distinguished Lecture Series. 

Savage shared his story to illuminate science and success.

Savage owed development of his interests to his parents. His mother, a psychotherapist, and his father, a painter and animator, encouraged him to pursue any subject he found interesting. Savage tries to implement this parenting style with his own children.

“I’m a strong believer that the things you’re obsessed about are the places you are going to find your own excellence,” Savage said.

Sometimes, excellence derives from failure.

“We only learn from failure,” Savage said. “It’s only the wrong turns that are important.”

A particular failure set Savage on the path to “MythBusters.” Savage took a job at AT&T Ballpark in downtown San Francisco when it opened. Old Navy, the park’s “Splash Landing” sponsor, requested a complex design for windows.

Savage said he viewed the project as a disappointment in the end. Ready to take a pay cut, the company surprised him with the full amount. He used that money to purchase his first computer and spent spring 2002 teaching himself digital film-making principles. Perceived failure prepared him to co-host “MythBusters.”

Savage further tied failure to the American school system today. Savage said the education system fails young people. He encouraged parents to buy supplies for teachers and to advocate for the prioritization of individualism in students. Moreover, he urged students to come to their own conclusions and create their own experiences.

“In the United States we have a crisis of education,” Savage said. “We are teaching the tests. We are teaching kids that science is a set of facts to remember by Thursday, and that is a disservice.”

Savage aided this crisis by co-founding the “Nation of Makers”. This non-profit organization strives to make sure Americans have the opportunity to create, not simply consume. Creation remains essential to future generations’ development.

The Maker Movement inspired many education systems, including studies within UT.

Omeed Noorbakhsh, president of the Makers Club at the University of Tennessee, said he learned “to never be afraid to fail, and to fail as fast and often as you can.”

“I’m not scared of failure anymore. I might fail a test in, you know, signals or in some other class, but then I learn, okay, ‘why did I fail?’”

Savage left the audience with an ironic excitement to fail and asked students to do more with their education: to vote, learn new technology, tell their own stories and learn from mistakes.

Savage holds hope in the youth’s ability to not only bust myths, but to change the world through what they learn today. Now, Savage serves as an executive producer and host on a new show called “MythBusters Jr.” Producers for the show cast six kids ready to tackle new myths for the future.

To continue answering the world’s questions.

Featured Image by Vanessa Rodriguez 

Edited by Ainsley Kelso