I remember sitting in my pre-law classes with anxiety around raising my hand out of fear of asking a stupid question. I hesitated to answer questions because I might be wrong. I thought if I was wrong it would illuminate my incompetence and ignorance. So better to sit quiet than take that risk. The myth of perfection and the desire to be viewed as competent really stifles our growth as humans.
In America, we have cultivated a culture of fear around failure. Fear of the judgment that comes along with mistakes. We indoctrinate our students to not take risks and thereby not truly engage in authentic learning cycles. So many of our students are nervous to even ask a question because of the potential shame of looking like an idiot in front of their peers. Even our grading system does not embrace the process of learning, but rather the motivator to achieve perfection. To get that ‘A’ means you got it down, to get that D means that you are pretty dumb.
This system has failed - pun intended. It’s time we reflect and decide to dive deep into what learning really looks and sounds like.
What if we transformed our classrooms to be places where mistakes were opportunities for growth? What if assessment was a two way conversation centered on improvement and reflection? How might students react differently in the learning process? How might our country benefit from these future healthy risk takers?
For the past five years, I have been working with educators to begin transforming our minds on the value of mistakes. We always begin with embracing our own mistakes and our future mistakes.
I am in the San Francisco bay area this summer leading equity work with Teach for America. I have the opportunity to witness over 150 new educators embody the principle of growth through mistakes. It is inspirational to witness them talking about the ways and places that we must be vulnerable and self reflective in order to be transformational educators. The leaders I get to work with are nothing short of amazing. I am excited to see how they will impact their youth and schools as they enter their classrooms in August.
Helpful Hint for Educators
Flatball Radio | Kelly Hansen – “Why I Hate Self Officiation”
by Matt Mastrantuono
July 27 2015
Mural Shows Legacy of Black Women in History
by Donovan M. Smith
July 23 2015
A Rightful Place
by Olivia Olivia
The Portland Observer
July 21, 2015
Mural Unveiled Saturday In Portland Highlights Achievements Of Black Women
by Christina Belasco
Oregon Public Broadcasting