Making mistakes helps our learning to become strong!
A growth-focused person views a setback or mistake as an opportunity to learn and improve.
In days gone by, a page of perfectly correct work was seen as a great thing. Children would delight when they found learning easy and proudly show off a page of 'ticks'.
Growth Mindset research has found that we should be teaching children the exact opposite:
- Easy work = No learning;
- Challenging work with a page of mistakes and corrections = great learning (and just what we should be aiming for!)
Many children shy away from challenging work and get discouraged quickly when they make mistakes. These students are at a significant disadvantage in school—and in life more generally—because they end up avoiding the most difficult work which is exactly what will help them to make progress.
If a child is working hard to learn and develop new skills, it’s inevitable that s/he will make mistakes. As parents and teachers, we must support our young people to step out of their comfort zones and into the stretch/learning/challenge zone as this is where children learn the most. It is often uncomfortable and scary for young people but we must support and encourage them to feel free to challenge themselves, make mistakes and show resilience.
It can be easy to get frustrated and criticise errors that children make. However, without making these mistakes and correcting them a child will not learn. It is through the process of challenge and struggle that parents can support by praising effort and encouraging their child to keep trying.
As adults we all need to create learning environments where young people understand it is ok to make mistakes and see them as essential in order to learn, develop and succeed.
- Getting lots of easy problems right should not be a cause for celebration.
- "Easy" means that you're not learning as much as you could.
- We want students to ask for more challenging work.
- Celebrate when children make a mistake then work hard to improve it.
- Ban the eraser! We want to see children's mistakes and the evidence that they have learned, improved and corrected them.