Make Mistakes… it will help you! :D

17 Feb

Ever worried if your answer is right…?

            Do you care how you got to your answer?

                        Is your answer what is in the mark scheme?

                                    What happens if you get the answer wrong???? A big X?

For years, you may have noticed in your school environment that making mistakes wasn’t acceptable, it was important for to you get the right answer! Educators want “errorless learning”. This is because people used to believe that if students made mistakes that they would remember the mistakes instead of the correct answer. However, research is now showing that students should be encouraged to make mistakes!!

We have all heard the famous phrase “We learn from our mistakes” so why is it people don’t apply this to academia?

Kornell et al., (n.d.) found that if students tried and failed to retrieve a particular answer for a difficult test that it helped them to learn. This may seem an unusual learning technique, but this research also showed that if students are asked for answers before being taught or reading the material that they remembered much more information.

When you’ve been spoon-fed how much information have you remembered?

Nobody is perfect… why do we expect children to be?

A professor from Stanford University, Carol Dweck, researcher’s into the area of the importance of challenging children, even if they make mistakes. Dweck has found that children praised for their intelligence are less likely to persist in the face of challenge. Children also experience higher stress levels when they are constantly praised for their intelligence due to the pressure they feel. In Dweck’s research she found that students who received praise for their effort worked exceptionally hard despite making some mistakes, however, students who were praised for being intelligent became disheartened and viewed their mistakes as failing.

Teachers and parents need to realise that unconditional praise, hiding errors and mistakes is actually harmful to children’s development!!

Phrase I found and liked…           

            “Mistakes contain seeds of learning”

                        So why not sow the seed and let it grows!!

A top girls school was reported in the news this month to having a ‘Failure Week’! The aim of this is to teach the girls to utilize risk, develop resilience, and learn from and value their mistakes. The focus of the week will be for the girls to experience failure and how it is acceptable psychologically and socially. We all worry what others think, and how they will judge out performance… I think this is an excellent idea!! Failing can be emotionally crippling for an individual where they’ve had failure isn’t an option into them! Nowadays we need to learn to accept, cope, and move on from failure!

Do you think its acceptable to experience failure…??


7 Responses to “Make Mistakes… it will help you! :D”

  1. psua4e February 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I agree that failure is essential to the learning process, as allowing children to fail allows them to see where they need to expand their learning and capabilities. An interesting thing – children are not embarrassed by failure until they reach school, where failures are seen as something to be ashamed and feared of, and can result in ridicule by peers.

    By instilling this fear of failure into children from a young age, children will automatically try and memorize what the teachers has said, as they know that that is what is needed to perform well on the test. They learn what is expected from them (memorize, and recall later) ad just do that, as this way they are guaranteed to achieve. This is all to do with the effect that grades have within Education, as children aren’t using their initiative, thinking for themselves, or being creative, their just doing what they know is needed to achieve, as they are programmed to believe that grades are all that matter.

    However, when these students come into higher education, the story changes. Although grades and memorization are still key to success, on assignments, and especially Dissertations, uniqueness and originality are encouraged and reach top marks. But then this is something that students have been trained not to do . . . as this kind of work normally results in failure within earlier education.

    • cassharp February 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      After reading all of these fabulous comments I further researched into fear of failure in the classroom. Despite lots of evidence showing the negative effects creating a fearful classroom atmosphere can have on academic performance. There is an excellent example of a teacher who is a full believer of creating fear in school being the best way for students to learn, to motivate them to produce high-quality work (have a read!!). The book mentions, “fear of failure, fear of unwanted call home, fear of the teacher, fear if ridicule, or fear of an unpleasant consequence”, all methods of implementing fear! Yet fear is known to comprise students’ ability to learn.

      The teacher had 2 quotes on his whiteboard

      “ There are no gains without pain” – Benjamin Franklin

      “Feel the fear and do it anyway” – Susan Jeffers

      Imagine the pressure the children felt even before the lecture began!
      When we learn in a fear-laden environment, our fight-or-flight mechanism is activated, as we feel threatened and fearful and therefore enter survival mode. Research has shown, that physiologically, students are unable to think as effectively and learn as much in a fearful environment as students in an environment where they feel secure, safe and comfortable.

  2. elburns February 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I also believe that failure is key to a child’s education. I believe that failing and embracing failure allows the child to have the ‘have a go’ attitude. I also believe though that this is difficult to implement in the current education system as it has such an emphasis on testing children.
    One piece of research suggests that the way people attribute their failure to either ability or effort affects humiliation and shame. Higher effort reduces the guilt factor of shame and humiliation. Individuals who put in a high amount of effort attribute their failure to ability, as this seems the only logical sense. A final factor that affected attribution was whether students were failure avoiding or failure accepting for their way of accepting academic demands. Students who were failure accepting attributed their failure to effort, which was something they could change and was therefore more helpful to furthering there education (Omelich & Covington, 1985).
    This research shows that accepting failure leads to healthier attributions, which we can do something about and learn further! So embrace failure!

    • cassharp February 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      A way of subduing the feeling of shame and humiliation in a classroom could be to create a culture of success and not an environment of fear.

      Saphier and Gower (1997) suggested this could be done by conveying the following three messages to the students…

      1. This is important

      2. You can do it

      3. I won’t give up on you

      This to me would be much more motivating than having a teacher from my previous comment saying “Wake up. Test tomorrow” or “It’s how you do in the game that matters. This is practice. Tomorrow is the big game. Don’t let up.”

      Learning, for some students, can be a scary process!!

      I don’t know about you, but I love my comfort zone and hate
      getting out of it! But to learn new material, and develop new
      skills, we must take ourselves out of our comfort zone and
      become vulnerable, enter an uncomfortable territory. Know we
      as adults don’t enjoy doing this… imagine how the children feel!

  3. rebeccaamelieknight February 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Berkun, 2005 found that in order to learn from our mistakes you need to admit that the mistake is yours and not go through the process of blaming others. This creates a shift towards understanding rather than blame. He also provides a sociocultural explanation as to why admitting a mistake is ours is a difficult process and this is because in many cultures work is a big part of your identity, thus if you fail at a test, you see yourself as a failure.
    Walker, 2011, states that when we perceive ourselves as having failed at something, at that moment our brain’s are primed to absorb information needed in order to perform the task more successfully the next time. This is because when we adopt the perspective that we can learn from our mistakes the frontal lobe becomes more active when these thinking processes occur and also when we make errors, the activity of the frontal lobe helps us draw attention these errors.
    Research conducted by Carol Dweck from Stanford University suggests that if students are encouraged to have a go and face challenges as learning opportunities with an open mind as opped to a fear of failure their brains will be more apt for learning effectively.
    This is supported by Agrell, n.d. who states that perfection also inhibits focus just as much as negative emotional reaction to a mistake.
    On a personal level, I think that if we don’t allow people to make mistakes and to develop a have a go attitude, creativity and originality of ideas will decrease. I also think this phenomena contributes to the idea of why so many people give up on their goals, it is usually the way that the harder the challenge the more mistakes and set backs you experience on the way, if only everyone new that actually if you learn from these mistakes they aren’t mistakes at all and can in fact accelerate you towards your given goal.
    Agrell, n.d.
    Berkun, 2005 –
    Dweck and Walker –

    • cassharp February 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      A quote I found, which I think is applicable to your comment and to Liz’s…

      “Humiliation and mental oppression by ignorant and selfish
      teachers wreak havoc in the youthful mind that can never be
      undone and often exert a baleful influence in later life”
      – Al Einstein

      This to me springs to mind the world of employment… let me explain.
      Teachers for the majority of us, as children, are the first form of authority in our life’s external from our families. In my eyes, they form our expectations of how individuals higher up than us in employment will treat us. So, I believe that if your teachers puts fear into you and your work, that when you go to a job interview, you confidence could be diminished as you fear the unexpected before the interviewer has even opened their mouth. Getting a job nowadays is difficult enough without closing yourself off to an employer because of your school environment. Anyone with a resilient personality, individuals who are consciously aware of their weaknesses, must learn to look beyond them, and centre on their strengths!

  4. psub4f February 20, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I found it really confidence building when we did SAFMEDs last semester to think about failure as learning opportunities. It really reminded me of the Zig Ziglar quote, which is as follows:
    “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”

    Education is not about making mistakes, it is about continuing to learn from them. The NDT suggest that in order for effective learning to take place, the classroom needs to be a place free from fear of faliure (and it alliterates, how cool is that). I completley agree with this, and your point of view. When afraid, effective learning cannot take place.

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