A Tale of Two Classrooms -- Mistakes = Learning

 This is the third in a ten-part series based on the poster: A Tale of Two Classrooms.


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Mistakes = Learning

       So here's a situation that happens everyday.  A teacher is teaching something new.  He or she asks a question and nobody responds.  Or maybe you're an adult and you go to a meeting of some sort and the presenter asks a question and nobody responds.  Why does this happen?  Why is this so common?

       Just like adults, students don't want to give the wrong the answer.  They don't want to offer a suggestion or an idea or a possible answer for fear that they may be wrong.  Wrong answers are viewed in a very negative way.  Wrong answers are bad.  Wrong answers are frowned upon.  So rather than risk embarrassment and possibly a scolding of some sort from the teacher, students (and adults) prefer to stay silent.

       Now imagine being in a class in which mistakes are viewed as great opportunities for learning.  When a students asks a question or offers a solution or an idea, it doesn't matter if he/she is right or wrong.  Instead, the comment is considered part of the classroom discourse.  It enables others students to hear different ideas and they can respond to these ideas.  In fact, we now know that mistakes help our brains to grow and help all of us to learn (no matter our age).

       When you are learning something new, you're not expected to know it right away.  Most new learning takes time and effort and mistakes and correcting mistakes and then more mistakes before you really understand it well--perhaps especially when learning math and science concepts.  It's not only "OK" to make mistakes, it should be expected (and respected) to make mistakes when you are learning something new.

       We want our students to be in classes in which mistakes are viewed as a nature part of the learning process.


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