Previously, I shared my sketchnote from this session at the 2015 SXSWedu conference. Here’s a bit of an explanation to guide you through that sketchnote. The session is also available as a podcast if you want to listen along.
In our modern society, we share a widespread infatuation with the idea of effortless success borne out of natural talent. Either you have amazing talent or you don’t, and the talented do not have to exert any real effort to get fantastic results.
In our minds, to struggle comes to mean failure.
Yet, talented people follow a process to achieve their results — we just don’t usually get to see their process.
And when the process becomes invisible, the results seem like magic.
So, to learn how to accept failure, we need to make the process visible.
This ignores the the process of moving from failure to success. How can we make the process more important, especially for students?
Grade the process as well as the result.
An anecdote of a master violinist with his student shows the beginner is unaware of most of his mistakes. When the master finishes the same piece (masterfully), he says, “I heard more mistakes in my playing than you did in yours.”
We need mistakes for the same reason you can’t explain how to ride a bicycle — you have to try and fall over.
And you have to try and fail again and again until you finally get it.
No amount of explanation or knowledge can substitute for the process of learning through making those mistakes.
#1 Don’t make mistakes.
#2 Hide any mistakes you make.
Rather than seeing mistakes as part of the process of learning, we train them to avoid trying any unfamiliar task where they think they might make a mistake.
Our emphasis on results rather than process teaches them to avoid rather than embrace mistakes and failure.
We must learn to accept that uncertainty and the mistakes we make searching as part of how we learn.
Mistakes = failure
Mistakes = wasted time
We need to show them how that is not true. Instead, we want them to learn:
Mistakes = the Road to Learning
Failure and mistakes are not only part of learning, they are essential to creative problem-solving. Rather than training students to fear failure and avoid mistakes, we should help them embrace mistakes as part of the messy process of learning and creating.