Learning from Mistakes

This forum started this week and I’ve really enjoyed participated in the discussions so far. What a great way to learn, if we actually learn from our mistakes. It’s better to attempt and fail, than not to try at all. Given time to reflect on our mistakes, we can learn from them. When instructing, I use mistakes as teachable moments. Students love to see lab demonstrations (done by me) possibly go wrong. I make light of everything as we are all human and this seems to create a friendly environment. Here’s a great video on Learning from your Mistakes.

I use the mistake as a teachable moment. It eases any tension when students see that it’s okay to make a mistake and to learn from it. I stop and ask the class what I could or should have done differently. It’s likely that this mistake is something that will happen to them while also in the lab, so this way they know what happened and how to correct it in the future. I never refer to any mistakes as failures, they are learning opportunities.

I think that students do learn from their mistakes and they also learn from other students mistakes. I cherish the idea of students making mistakes, so that everyone has something to gain from the experience. If you create an environment for perfection, students get anxious and won’t attempt the task for fear of making a mistake. I have a very relaxed outlook on making mistakes, but my program has a very rigid curriculum. For example, you wouldn’t want dental assistants making mistakes when they get out into their working field, but now is the time for them to learn from their mistakes.

I’m also a perfectionist and have suffered “frozen in time” for fear of failure or making a mistake. It’s taken me years to figure this out and work through the steps to proceed anyways. I really encourage my students to attempt something they fear as there’s always something to gain. It is difficult to watch students that make mistakes and not learn from them right away. At this point, I usually step in to remind them that they actually did learn something from their mistake. This applies a positive reinforcement to learning from mistakes.

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