As my little girl continues to grow and learn, I find that I am more and more fascinated by the process of learning. How we acquire knowledge, how we make sense of the information we are getting from the world around us and what we learn about life from the people in our lives. But the questions I keep coming back to are when do we start to fear making a mistake, but more importantly, WHY do we become afraid to fail?
My little girl loves the preschool app ‘Monkey Lunchbox’ and wants to play it on a daily basis. It has a variety of activities and one is a matching game where you have to find two of each fruit under some cards. At first she didn’t get the concept, but now I’ve noticed she not only understands what to do, she’s developed a strategy to be successful. The key part to her strategy, however, is that she flips over a number of cards (making mistakes on purpose) to locate the pairs and then remembers where they are and matches the fruit. As I was thinking about how I would have approached the same concept, I realized that I would not have wanted to purposely make mistakes. Why is that? Is it because when I played competitive softball if I made a mistake, I got benched? (that coach and his method of teaching will get a post all of his own in the not too distant future) Is it because we start testing kids at such a young age and for a perfectionist like me anything less than an 80% wasn’t good enough? Or is it because we as a society place so much importance on being right the first time and with no real focus on what we have learned?
I really don’t have the answers to any of my own questions, but what I do know is that I will continue to encourage my little girl to continue to make mistakes and that I will always support her no matter what. She will be encouraged to try again and she will definitely know that what she learns is so much more important than some number or letter that her teacher(s) write(s) on her paper(s).