I have been teaching my student for more than a year now, I still see confusion and fear in her eyes when I ask her a question and she doesn’t know the answer. I tell her repeatedly that it is okay if her answer is wrong, she needs to speak out. Yet I see this inkling of fear, it is too deep rooted to go away easily. Not just in students, I see it in other aspects of life too. I see the same fear in a 2-year old going through potty training, when she has an accident. I see the same fear in the eyes of a 67-year-old when she breaks a glass bowl by mistake. I feel the same fear when I accidentally send a sensitive email to the wrong person.
The root of this in my opinion is our habit of stigmatising mistakes. Whether it is a wrong answer or broken cutlery or a mis-sent email or a potty accident, we have conditioned ourselves to forge unhealthy relationships with mistakes.
Very young children are excellent learners and move past their mistakes very well. As they grow however, the stigma affects them more and more. In education especially, this unhealthy relationship has far-reaching and disastrous consequences. Why are mistakes important? I leave you to ponder over two insightful videos.
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