The Strength in Making Mistakes
by Sage Waelbroeck
When an infant is learning to walk and falls on their face, what happens? Inevitably some crying is involved but this is part of the learning experience and ultimately, the mastery of walking. This cycle is repeated but with each time learning small things to improve on such as catching themselves, grabbing onto something else for assistance, or learning to hold their balance while they take a few more steps forward.
This is the power of mistakes. We learn from them. In fact, cognitive scientists have found that mistakes improve learning when followed by corrective feedback, especially if the mistake was made with a high level of confidence. We make mistakes from the time we’re born right until our final breath. It’s an essential part of being human. So why is it that we put such pressure on ourselves and others to strive for perfection in all things? In most cases throughout a life, perfection is the unattainable ideal that taunts and belittles us when we fail to reach it. In a classroom full of developing minds, those taunts can be all too real. In a traditional classroom, when a student takes a risk in answering a question, their lack of perfection is laid bare for the entire class to witness.
But what if that awareness of failure can be made a strength? At the Design 39 Campus in San Diego, California, students don’t do their work sitting at a desk. The majority of it is done standing in small groups around whiteboards where each student is given a specific role for the day. All of the work they do for the lesson is out in the open, easily seen by others in the class. Instead of one student’s mistakes being visible at a time, there is an understanding that everyone is making mistakes together. An important and inherent lesson in this method is learning how to accept when we have made an error and work to correct it.
Whether you are a parent or an educator, this helpful list of tips from Psychology Today can assist you in encouraging the children in your life to accept with peace the mistakes they will inevitably make, and to learn from each one:
- “Acknowledge that you don’t expect your children to be perfect.”
- “Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.”
- “Don’t rescue children from their mistakes. Instead, help them focus on the solution.”
- “Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.”
- “Encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.”
- “Avoid pointing out their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.”
- “Praise them for their ability to admit their mistakes.”
- “Praise them for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.”
- “Mentor them on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.”
- “Help them look at the good side of getting things wrong!”
The philosophy behind these tips is often referred to as having a growth mindset. This concept is one of the driving forces behind Numinds Enrichment. We believe that a person’s basic abilities (e.g. intelligence, talent, communication, etc.) are not set in stone, but are malleable. With dedication and hard work, any skill can be improved and mastered, and we seek to foster an environment that encourages the growth of all individuals.
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Hey there! I’m Sage, and I wrote the article you (probably) just read. I’ve been a certified Nerd™ since birth, formalized in the style of a B.A. in English: Creative Writing at Ball State University, and I write about the things that are important to me. That includes nerdy topics like Dungeons and Dragons, literally anything science fiction, and the newest real-world innovations and how they can be applied to our society. But the thing I most want to share with you?
My guiding philosophy – something I aim to include in every piece I write. It’s the philosophy of empathy – trying to explore, understand, and respect the things that may not be respected elsewhere. In fact, my personal philosophy is ultimately what drew me to NuMinds; the company shares the same vision of unity, encouragement, and respect that I have cultivated and continue to cultivate in my personal life. So if something in one of these articles strikes a chord or resonates with you, I encourage you to get in touch with me and share your experiences!