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what about mistakes?

I am part of a MYSA twitter community and it was recommended that we read a book called ‘Unusually excellent” by John Hamm. It’s about leadership and how we need to revisit and refresh our ideas on how to lead. One paragraph so far has stood out the most

” Most of you own a digital camera, and need look no further to see the direct relationship between the willingness to take a risk and the perceived “cost” of failure. There is no expense associated with a flawed digital photograph – financial or otherwise. You hit the Delete button, and it disappears. No wasted film,slides or print. And we are aware of this relationship between mistakes and consequences when we pick up the camera – so we click away, taking many more photos digitally we would have in a world of costly film. Because we know failure is free, we take chances, and in that effort we often get one amazing picture that we wouldn’t have if we were paying for all the mistakes”

As I continue to walk this teaching journey, my pedagogies are being challenged daily. It is difficult to break the structures that I set up twenty years ago, when I studied at University. We are in exciting times as technology allows us to take our teaching to a different level. Maybe we should be asking our kids daily “What mistakes did you make today and how have they changed you?”

In a previous career I was an apprentice welder. My first 3 months were spent sitting at a bench, welder in hand and developing a skill ( welding) on pieces of scrap metal. I would have welded 1,000’s of pieces of scrap together, that in the end were worthless. Mistakes were made, skills developed and I became a brilliant welder. It was a smart way for the company to operate, they invested time into me learning and then made money from my outcome. Imagine if invested in our students time to make mistakes, to develop a skill, to become masters.

Whilst I don’t want to become too political but by having a curriculum that is “national” are we confining our students to timelines that must be met otherwise they aren’t at a”standard”. Rather should we be prepared to make time for students to investigate , develop and reflect.

“Failure is free and the learning experience priceless”

Any thoughts?

About mattwpearce

Head of Secondary at Lighthouse School Mauritius from 2019


One thought on “what about mistakes?

  1. Thanks for sharing this insight with me Matt. I guess its important to create a learning environment where students can make mistakes in a constructve environment where specific learning (or a skill) is the outcome. Many students experience failure as a very negative experience with no purpose and the feedback reinforces this failure. I really like the digital camera analogy and agree with your sentiment about imposed standards.
    Well done in exploring this means of collaborating with peers!!

    Posted by Rob Rohde | August 7, 2012, 9:17 am

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