I Made a Mistake … Huzzah!!!!

There is an unhealthy trend in this country that has me worried for our future. I’m sure it’s one that has been mentioned before by others who are experts. It’s an epidemic the likes of which rival the Spanish Flu. Why is no one trying to stem the tide or tourniquet the situation? What is this tragedy?

Making mistakes. Or more precisely the unwillingness to make mistakes. There is such a need in this country to be the best that few are willing to take a chance. The sad thing is that parents are passing on this attitude to their children – always be right, make straight A’s, be the best.

I cannot tell you how many parent-teacher conferences and emails I’ve had because the parent was upset about the child’s grade – not a failing grade but because the child had an 88 or a 78.  UGH!! Really, parents?! I’m glad that you are involved in your child’s education and curious about the grades, but a “B” or a “C” is not a reason to get angry with me.

People, not just students, need to make mistakes in order to learn. If we always got everything right every time, what would  our motivation be for trying anything new? We would get bored with how easy everything is. We would no longer set goals or invent new …  anything. In short, the world would come to a screeching halt!!!

Too dramatic and over the top? You’re probably right, but you get my point. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that the struggle is more import than the actual success. After all, none of us were born knowing how to crawl or walk or talk. We learned through trial and error. We played games and got answers wrong. We played outside and fell down and got dirty. We climbed trees and scraped our knees. We ran races and lost and got better.

It’s quite sad, really. I see students who are unwilling to take a chance with an assignment, unwilling to raise their hands to answer a question (or even ask a question). When did it become acceptable to put forth the least amount of effort and expect the greatest reward? Many of the students I’ve worked with would prefer you tell them the answer rather than figure it out for themselves. We need a return to trial and error when A’s were earned and meant that you had given your best effort.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. It is a wonderful movie about being yourself and taking chances. They celebrate mistakes and individuality. It’s probably one of the best conversation starters you can have with your children or your students about the importance of making mistakes.

Any engineer worth his salt will tell you that the sooner you fail with a project the faster you will succeed with it. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but it really is the only way to ensure success and creativity. Walt Disney knew that.

 “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney


Don’t you see? You cannot think outside the box while the box remains intact. So, go out there, in the world, and show your students and your children, and yourself, that failure and hard work are a part of life. Show them that success is impossible to achieve without making a mistake. Celebrate the little failures, so you can hold your head high when you’ve succeeded.


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