Why Kids Need to Embrace Mistakes, Not Shun Them

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We’re wired to be competitive and aspire to be winners. But we do so by being perfectionists, making as little errors as we could do. Perfectionism in a highly competitive world led us to be too harsh on ourselves – the inner critic in us dish out criticisms worse than those we get from other people.

We’ve forgotten that mistakes are part of winning, that victory is sweeter if we started climbing it at the bottom. We must relearn that. Most importantly, we need to be the role model for our kids with that.

Winning In A School Environment

American school teachers subconsciously explain that to succeed; students have to follow things in the order they’re set. For example, teaching kids to solve a math problem involves showing a formula and going along its exact route to get the correct answer in the end.

Those who do the process correctly and got the right answers are praised. But what could be perceived as the norm may be a factor why the American educational system isn’t moving forward, says a psychologist who made a scientific paper about this recently.

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In contrast, a study on the various classroom learning processes in some countries observed that unlike their American counterparts, Japanese teachers allow their students to solve mathematical problems on their own without telling them first what the standard formulas are. Afterwards, they discuss both the correct and erroneous ways they used to answer them.

And this approach seems to be more efficient as Japanese students perform better than Americans when it comes to Math.

While teaching kids through the mistakes they make may be more challenging compared to just pointing at the right path they should tread on, error-based learning has two advantages.

  • It enhances a child’s awareness or capability to think about how he feels, an ability termed as metacognition, and
  • It boosts his self-efficacy or his belief that he can get things done.

So, what values does a learning based on errors accurately teach our kids?

  1. Persistence – kids learn the true meaning of the saying “don’t give up” when they lose rather than when they’re already at the top.
  2. Versatility – no problem – may that be mathematical or in real life – has only one solution. There are many ways to untangle a knot or catch the cat, they say. And that’s very true.

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  1. Resilience – being resilient is the ability to get back up again after making a fall. Error-based learning lets a child experience that within the classroom’s setting. It teaches him to recover from his difficulties fast and never back down until he succeeds.
  2. Self-Compassion – being gentle to one’s self is a critical lesson every child direly needs to learn. Being a perfectionist means being your own harshest critic, an act that’s quite detrimental to mental health.
  3. Nurture bonds – the teacher-student relationship can be made stronger when these two work together, and that’s what error-based learning emphasizes. By acting out as a mentor instead of a guide, kids feel more motivated to learn because they think their teacher cares for them to work with them on their errors.
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