Wednesday, 2 December 2015


"Mistakes are proof that you are trying"
Author unknown

This quote hangs on my wall in my classroom.  There are many ways to find solutions to a problem - we can ask for help or clarification or we can work it out with a friend or a classmate.  We can work it out in a different way or last but not least we can make a mistake and guess what?  It can become clearer each time a mistake is made.  Giving up or saying "I can't do it!" is not an option and I wouldn't encourage this.

Society has placed barriers and created so much pressure that we are all under pressure to perform. Children are under pressure to be perfect.  Parents are under pressure to make sure that their children are achieving high results.  Teachers are under pressure to teach "for the test".  In Australia Naplan is a prime example of this.  We are all under pressure and this pressure is placed on the children in one form or another.

Studies have found that learning is enhanced when children make mistakes!  Do we give children opportunities for this?  Is our over crowded curriculum that should support children to develop at their own pace provide for this?

Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, has done research that showed that praising children for their intelligence can actually make them less likely to persist in the face of challenge.  Carol did a study with 5th grade children in New York City schools.  One group was praised for their intelligence and another for their effort.  They were then challenged with an extremely difficult test designed to 8th graders.  The children that were praised for being smart became discouraged and their effort decreased by 20%.  They saw their mistake as a sign of failure.  The children that were praised for effort increased their effort by 30%.  Carol Dweck's research studies shows the importance of challenging children even if they get things wrong.  Mistakes are the pathways to learning.

I am now reading the book Carol Dweck has written called "Growth Mindset".  In her book she explains a simple idea that the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.  This book is a powerful book and I highly recommend it not only to teachers, parents and all individuals will find this book inspirational.

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