Learning Through our Mistakes – Sept. 24

Posted September 25, 2016

One of the nice things I enjoy about the weekend is sitting on Saturday morning with a fresh coffee catching up on reading my twitter feed. I find it very good for Professional Development and keeping current. I find it amazing that in no time at all, I can connect with educators from all over the world. I also find it interesting that education faces some of the same issues world wide. This week I was doing some reading on mistakes.

One of the themes right now is that of having a #growthmindset ( for a good read on this go to https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/11/16/growth-mindset-clearing-up-some-common-confusions/) and accepting that we learn by making mistakes. While not making mistakes is important in some contexts (like surgery), I am focusing on having a growth mindset, and embracing mistakes as a necessary part of the learning process.

Learning happens when we make mistakes, reflect on what we did, and make a plan to make changes the next time. The “reflecting on what we did” is the important part. Reflecting causes us to think critically about what we are doing or have done so we can improve the next time. How does this apply to you at home? Well, when your child gets a grade they are not happy with, ask them what their plan is for next time. Or, when they are engaged in building something or doing a job at home and “get stuck”, ask them what they think they could do differently. This approach, which we use at school, helps to support your child develop resilience, as a critical thinker, and a problem solver.

To help in this process of learning, it is also important for the learner to get effective feedback and praise. Consider the difference between saying “you did a good job” and “you did a good job persevering by trying different strategies”. In writing at school, this could sound like “You did a good job adding events in your story to help the reader understand what was happening. Next time, you should focus on adding adjectives to make the events more interesting”.

To summarize, help your child embrace mistakes as part of the learning process. More often than not, it is the process of learning that leads us to a successful outcome, not the outcome itself.

Here are some videos I have shared with staff that illustrate the importance of embracing mistakes.


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