Making New Mistakes

I’m told that one of the highest compliments you can get in the tech world is, “Wow, we’ve never made that mistake before.” Coming on to a project and making the same old mistakes is not how they move the technology forward.

Smart teachers want their students to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, and a classroom that affords the freedom to make mistakes is bound to be a place where learning happens.

Here are my two lines of thought about mistakes in the classroom.

1. Do you reward mistakes? Do you especially reward experimentation and new mistakes you’ve never seen before? What would happen if you celebrated brave errors, when coupled with an understanding of where they went wrong?

2. Do you celebrate your own mistakes? When was the last time you made a new mistake? Did you share with your students this discovery – what your mistake was, and what you learned from it? Why or why not?

In the student-teacher relationship, neither should be expecting infallibility from the other; why not celebrate our fallibility and create the opportunity for everyone to learn and grow?