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Making the most of mistakes

March 31, 2014

Over the past twenty years or so, I’ve been considering a theory that says, basically,  we learn more from losing than from winning.  18

As a parent and an educator, I believe that.  Players on teams learn a ton from being part of a losing experience. Musicians learn from hitting the wrong notes.  Students learn from making mistakes.

Last week, my son’s golf coach shared a quote from legendary basketball coach, Pat Riley, that supports this theory:  “It’s what you get from the games you lose that is extremely important.”

Then, just this morning, I read this — about mistakes —  in a post on Edutopia”s web site:

“Changing your students’ perspective on mistakes is the greatest gift you can give yourself as a teacher. Imagine having a classroom of students who are engaged and constantly improving — it’s every teacher’s dream. Instead, teachers face too many students who are disengaged and really rather surly. That surliness is years in the making. By the time students walk into your classroom, they’ve likely already internalized their mistakes as evidence that they’re just not smart. Getting a bad grade feels like a personal attack. No wonder they’re giving the deliverer of those grades the stink eye.”

Fascinating.

It’s what we get from making mistakes that leads, ultimately, to growth and learning.  It’s what we feel after a tough loss that motivates us to reflect on what we need to do better next time.

Ultimately, failure leads to progress.

Read the full Edutopia post (by Hunter Maats and Katie O’Brien — authors of The Straight-A Conspiracy) here.

Cannon School is a JrK-Grade 12 independent school located in Concord, NC

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