I have been a High School teacher for many years now and in that time I have seen and experienced many mistakes, including my own. I see that a big part of my job is helping children realise the benefits of learning from mistakes. When children really get this, they become highly resilient and go onto thrive in all aspects of their learning, both in and outside school.
Learning from errors and mistakes is a crucial part of a child development. They majority of adults understand this concept. However, most adults have failed to teach children that there’s a positive side to getting things wrong. Children can be fearful of mistakes. They can be scared to get things wrong. Some children can become obsessed with perfection.
The Science behind learning from mistakes is known as ‘Growth Mindset’. This is a hot topic in education and psychology at the moment. The idea was first proposed by a Stanford psychologist, known as Carol Dweck. Since her pioneering work was released many other researchers and educators have gone onto to develop and apply her ideas and discuss their findings.
“Becoming is better than being.” — Carol Dweck
Check out this video:
Here’s a quick video that summarises the difference between ‘growth mindsets’ and ‘fixed mindsets’. You’ll find it helpful to get a grasp of the key ideas.
Most children grow up in the society that pressures them to be the best and perfect. Whether it involves developing friendships, homework or playing sports, learning is enriched through errors. Learning from mistakes is part of a growth mindset and how you challenge yourself to learn to do some things differently.
“Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going.” — Carol Dweck
Some of the benefits of children learning from mistakes include motivating themselves to try new and innovative approaches to problem-solving. Learning from mistakes also help develop good judgment and wisdom throughout a lifetime.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein
According to research, challenging tests force children to make errors. Educators in the past have made learning conditions that don’t encourage errors and parents followed suit with how they taught their kids to manage these conditions. For instance, if you drill kids over and over again with the same math problem, they’ll remember the answer. If they’re lucky, they’ll remember the answer on the standardised test.
This approach in learning assumes that if students are allowed to make some mistakes, they won’t learn the right information. But, recent research shows it to be an incorrect assumption. As a matter of fact, studies found that learning from mistakes improves instead of detracts from learning.
Learning from Mistakes Can Help Improve Children’s Motivation and Effort
Based on research, it shows that praising kids for intelligence can make them less likely to persist when facing challenges. For instance, when fifth graders were challenged with extremely difficult tests made for 8th graders, surprising results occurred. Students who had been praised for their efforts worked hard even if they made lots of mistakes. The children praised for being smart became discouraged as well as saw their mistakes as a sign of failures. Intelligence testing for children praised for efforts increased by thirty percent while children praised for their intelligence dropped by twenty percent.
“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.” — Confucius
Giving specific and meaningful praise motivates kids who are learning from their mistakes. Praise must focus on developing their character strength, which help them understand their internal abilities. It’s an opportunity to develop the kid’s resilience, which is one of the core abilities of children.
When learning through mistakes children will also learn to think more critically. This is another hot topic in education at the moment. Thinking critically is the key to developing more independent thoughts and having a clear mindset in debating and forming a point of view. I have written a great article on this that you may also be interested in reading, which can be accessed here.
Encourage Children When Mistakes Happen
Learning from failures and mistakes is not easy, especially to children. That is the reason why every child needs encouragement to succeed and learn. Positive words from teachers, parents, and mentors during tough learning challenges are important for children’s growth mindset and development. However, you should do it in a proper manner. There are times that children might misinterpret the way you teach them on how to learn from their mistakes. So, you must consider the proper techniques on how to let children learn from mistakes.
The benefits of children learning from mistakes are immense. This will help kids become a better person in the future. Such benefits can also make them be braver to face new challenges in life.
“My dad encouraged us to fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn’t have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.” — Sara Blakely
I hope that you found reading this article on the benefits of learning from mistakes informative. In the classroom there are lots of initiatives that teachers are using to encourage students to not be fearful of making mistakes, but instead to embrace them. Many of the strategies that teachers use in the classroom can also be used at home, for example, the styles of questions that you use or the types of games that you play.
If you would like a useful download of the types of questions to ask your kid and fantastic activities to try, please get in touch and I’ll send heaps of useful things your way. The strategies I’ll send through to you have been tried and tested by thousands of teachers, parents and kids to yield the results you need.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comment box below. I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences and I ensure I reply to each and everyone of you.