We currently live in a world where all systems praise correct answers, perfect positions, flawless appearance; none of which are actually teaching us how to be happy, in fact, teaching us nothing at all. When it comes to education and parenting our kids, we’ve lost focus on the idea that mistakes is where the true learning lies. We have so many different methods of teaching, but currently our program for education is promoting a perfect 10, asking that all of our children find their worth in that letter A grade. However, what we are lacking to do is to allow our children to delve into their mistakes, forgetting that a true lesson learned requires us to take the path least traveled.
When we look at an average classroom setting, the reason that so many of our children are struggling is because they lack the confidence to be wrong. The fear of asking a “stupid” question, or being the child who just didn’t get the answer right, is actually hindering our children from learning. In a sports game, perhaps being the child to didn’t get the ball causing a loss in the game for their team would have them walk away with their head home low, their self-esteem shot, and a team no longer valleys behind them. The question I would like to ask, is what are we as educators and parents doing to allow our children to have that failure? We all want our children to strive for the best, to do as well as they can, but what do we do when a mistake is the best that they can do??
After having discussion with many families on this topic, there seems to be an overwhelming desire to comfort our children when they make a mistake, to push them to do better, to force them to believe that the only outcome of true value is winning. As covered by the last blog we’ve seen statistically that having perfection does not mean having happiness. Learning And knowing something in a true workable fashion, is what gives children value. Learning requires having space of unknown answers.
When we look at the education system, teachers hand out attest to their students, returning the test for the letter grade leaving some children extremely happy and some feeling down and out. Columbia secondary school, New York City public school affiliated with Columbia University did a study where they asked the teachers to monitor what happens on performance tests when they allowed students to review the test after the test was taken, the results were amazing. Not only did all of the students pass the test, but there was an immediate improvement in the conversation about the errors. Students found the comfortability and confidence in being able to openly discuss their mistakes, removing the fear of failure and the fear of the topic they were learning allowed them the space to be OK with making errors. Changing the narrative of a mistake is improving the probability of a victory.
Throughout time education systems have created conditions that don’t encourage making mistakes parenting has done the same thing. We sit with our kids and we go over and over and over the same material hoping that it will somehow click and then praying that when asked in class they would remember the answers. This is not learning. Carol Dweck professor at Stanford university did a study with fifth graders challenging them with an eighth grade test. They took two sets of students half of them praised for their effort the other half praised for their intelligence, what they found was that kids who appraised for their efforts increased results by 30% while the kids who are praised for their intelligence dropped by 20%. The message… removing the stigma of making a mistake and encouraging problem solving is how we improve not only test scores but self esteem.
Sometimes it’s hard for parents and teachers to know how to start a dialogue with a child who might feel discouraged because of their mistakes or errors, here are some things you might want to say to help your child/student when they find themselves self loathing over a D or loss of a goal.
The goal of a parent and teacher is to mentor our children/students through mistakes, to make sure that they really learned the lessons, that each lesson learned is a stepping stone to a higher lesson. The way we help our children/students do that is by encouraging practice, attention, enjoyment, and consistency. Look back at your life, think about how mistakes have molded you into the person that you’ve become today; knowing the errors in our ways, is understanding that life is not perfect, and it is still beautiful.
The FreeAtive Nest
It seems we have become more unhappy than ever before, our children too. A study done by a Johns Hopkins professor showed that the chance of an adolescent experiencing major depression rose by 37% in the span of almost 10 years. The dark truth is that the numbers are continuously increasing. While we concern ourselves with making sure that all of our students are able to fulfill certain expectations of them, with standardized testing and common core math problems, we neglect to pay attention to how these expectations are affecting their mental health.
Living in a society that tells you materialism and money are the keys to success is the first mistake that we’ve made as a community of role models to our children. Not only is it important for us to pay attention to the academic achievements of our children, but to be focused mainly on their well-being. According to the CDC the suicide rate for young males has increased by 31% since 2007 and has doubled for females… What do we have to say about this? What can we do about this? Are we doing enough…
Currently only two states in the entire United States of America actually include mental health education in their curriculums, but that’s not enough and it certainly isn’t going to be enough to help the rest of our young people learn how to manage not only their emotions but their mental health as well. It may seem like an issue that is common sense; however in our current climate of government priorities, mental health and education seems to be the lowest on the list. There are a lot of contributing factors that play a part in the reason for our students decline in self-confidence, happiness, and socio-emotional stability, let’s visit those.