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The ‘Ta Da’ in Learning
December 12, 2015
0

I have a motto when I’m teaching music “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough”. It’s a bit flippant really; obviously nobody aims to make mistakes, after all, if we’re going to learn something we should be aiming for excellence.

The problem…….   is ……………… when ………………..we …….are ………..so ……………………fearful ………… of ….mistakes……………..we …………..take ……. every ……. little step……. so ….slowly ……. and ……………..carefully……………… we ……………end ……………….up …………….taking…………………………ten                 times                           longer                     to                                 learn                           it. You see I believe we learn best and most efficiently when we allow ourselves to make mistakes.

The end result may well be perfect one day, we should always aim as high as we can, but the learning can never be perfect. And by that I mean mistakes will happen. In fact its imperative that mistakes do happen.

No parent sits their toddler down in front of a manual to teach them how to walk. Toddlers teach themselves through a repetitive process of try – fall over – try again. Each time they fall, they learn a little bit more and get that little bit stronger. The learning is intrinsic and it happens due essentially to mistakes (or falls and stumbles in this case). I remember clearly our three boys learning to walk and without doubt the one who took to it earliest was the least careful and fell over the most!

Don’t you just wish you could approach each new task or learning in life like a toddler. No fear of failure, no embarrassment of falling and no feelings of being judged. This can be critical with performance related learning like an instrument, acting or singing etc. Because you see even during the learning process, during lessons for example, there is usually an element of performance. With this performance comes exposure followed swiftly with a host of fears of judgment and comparison etc.

And so the last thing we want to do is make mistakes…

Which leads us to perform within ourselves…

The very thing that the piece demands of us – to express ourselves at our most authentic – becomes lost on us…

We play it safe, learn slow, settle for less.

—————————-

So can we just press a switch, turn off the fear and start embracing failure?

Well I would argue it’s a mindset thing, and the thing about mindsets is they are simply based on a belief, and the thing about beliefs is we get to choose what we believe.

So what’s our mindset when it comes to mistakes?

What do we believe about our mistakes? Do they define us or shape us? Are they failure or opportunity?

Well, how does a carefree learner, like a toddler, view mistakes?

I love the ‘Ta Da’ Calvin and Hobbs cartoon strip. Isn’t it so true? Toddlers don’t just not care about the falls and the bumps and the mishaps, they celebrate them. They clap their own misfortune, laugh at the mess they’ve just made and are far more likely to show off their latest graze than their latest development in walking.

So if mistakes are necessary in learning we need to embrace the process, learn to find the fun in it, enjoy it. The best learners find it easier to live in the moment, with less pressure on the outcome. They not only allow mistakes, they embrace them, and they see them as part of the beauty of the journey. They celebrate them for what they are, a necessary part of their journey. This whole mindset frees them up to use the mistakes as tools to learn even more and above all they enjoy the Work In Progress.

And do you know what. Being open to mistakes, embracing them and celebrating them is about far more than just us personally. When we are vulnerable and allow others to see the mistakes, the fails and the falls, we give them a glimpse of our own Work In Progress allowing our lives to be living testimonies. We learn from others and others learn from us. We give and are given that little bit more license to get it wrong.


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