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The Meaning of Errors

During a recent workshop I attended, I happened to overhear a conversation that was going on  at the next table.  (Okay, I was really just being nosy and listening.) They were talking about kids, the difference in work habits of their ‘good’ kids and the other kids, homework, and why kids don’t learn from their mistakes. It wasn’t necessarily a conversation that I wanted to jump into, but I was really intrigued by their ideas. And, they had some interesting ones.

However, it did get me wondering about errors and mistakes: how we think about them; how we handle them in our own learning; how we help kids handle them (or not); how I would rather kids handle them; how I would rather I handle them.

Over the weekend, I was doing some reading and ran across these ideas in Peter Johnston’s work-OPENING MINDS:  Using Language to Change Lives.  On page 2, he talks about the meaning of errors.  “When you make a mistake, it means nothing more than that.  Fix it.  Learn from it.  It does not mean you are incompetent, stupid, or not a good person.”  He continues.  “Errors usually happen at the edge of what we can do, when we are stretching into new territory-when we are learning.”

So, I am trying to think about errors from Dr. Johnston’s perspective in regards to my own learning.  I feel more encouraged to keep working at it (that idea of perseverance) and take longer before the “I quit” happens and I move onto the “I give up” stage.  It’s making me a little more comfortable about asking for input, assistance, feedback, and help.  That’s not such a bad thing.

The really BIG question is…how do we help kids acquire this confidence about errors and risk-taking, persistence, and resiliency?

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Robyn Sierchio #

    I think that children observe us. If we show that we can make mistakes, own them, correct them, and move on while having a sense of humor and confidence it helps our students as they struggle in the classroom.

    July 16, 2013

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