One of the chapters in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, talks about strategies and lessons to use with students about learning from mistakes and failures. I thought I’d put together a “The Best…” list that shares some additional related resources.
Here are my choices for The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures:
Of course, this Michael Jordan commercial is a classic:
On the importance of failure by Cedar Riener
Here’s a video book trailer called “BETTER BY MISTAKE: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong by Alina Tugend”
A portion of the next video is absolutely fascinating video is absolutely fascinating and shows the stages Picasso went through in order to complete a painting. It’s a great example of him making “mistakes” and learning from them. It’s by Derek Sivers, and it’s called “Why You Need To Fail.” At 9:10 he shows the Picasso footage and provides a great narration to it (thanks to Greg MacCollum for the tip).
Kevin D. Washburn has written an excellent post at The Edurati Review titled Learning from Mistakes Takes the Right Feedback. Here’s a short excerpt from it, but it’s really worth a visit and a “full read”:
“Dr. Robert Brooks (2007) suggests couching feedback in “we” statements. For example, rather than telling a student that a response is incorrect and to “try harder,” Brooks suggests, in one-on-one conversation, saying, “This strategy you’re using doesn’t seem to be working. Let’s figure out why and how we can change the strategy so that you are successful.” Such a response invites a careful investigation of the mistake and makes the interaction a problem-solving experience. A classroom environment that welcomes error as a gateway to learning contributes to better feedback responses.”
Here’s a TED Talk: Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex:
And, here are two “bonus” posts:
The Ten Worst Teaching Mistakes by Richard M. Felder
Sue Waters wrote a great post titled “Here’s My Top Five Mistakes Made By New Bloggers — What Are Yours?”
Why Do Some People Learn Faster? is the title of a column by Jonah Lehrer in Wired. He reviews a study that highlights the importance of learning from mistakes and failures, and ends the article with this:
The problem with praising kids for their innate intelligence — the “smart” compliment — is that it misrepresents the psychological reality of education. It encourages kids to avoid the most useful kind of learning activities, which is when we learn from our mistakes. Because unless we experience the unpleasant symptoms of being wrong — that surge of Pe activity a few hundred milliseconds after the error, directing our attention to the very thing we’d like to ignore — the mind will never revise its models. We’ll keep on making the same mistakes, forsaking self-improvement for the sake of self-confidence. Samuel Beckett had the right attitude: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
The Art of Failing Successfully is also by Jonah Lehrer and is about the same study. However, this column is a bit different and appeared in The Wall Street Journal.
How Struggle Leads to Learning is a report on a study involving three-year-olds, but I suspect it might be applicable to others, too.
A rather complicated (at least to me) study found that high-performer physicians (those who appeared to most likely prescribe an effective treatment to a patient) were far more likely to pay attention to learning from their mistakes than low-performers. These “low-performers” were more likely to demonstrate confirmation bias and focus on their successes. I actually think that this study might be an important one, and I just need to set aside some time to review it again…and again until I understand it.
I’d probably only use parts of this video with students, but it makes some good points on the value of mistakes.
Hearing about scientists’ struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning is a pretty self-explanatory headline about the results of a new study.
Mistakeville is a site where users can share their mistakes and what they learned from them.
This study is a few years old, but it’s new to me. It comes via ASCD, and found that children above the age of twelve are more likely to learn from their mistakes than younger kids.
Kevin Washburn discusses several research findings and expands on them at What should we be teaching? I was particularly struck by what he said under “Initiative and entrepreneurialism.”
The University of Pennsylvania gives “Brilliant Mistakes” awards to “people whose mistakes were most productive.”
Telling students it’s okay to fail helps them succeed — study is the title of a Valerie Strauss blog post about a recently published study. Here’s an excerpt from her post:
Telling children that it is perfectly normal to sometimes fail at school can actually help them do better academically, according to newly published research.
The results of three experiments by French researchers are not definitive but they are intuitive; kids who don’t feel overwhelming pressure to do well all the time are more likely to feel free to explore, take academic chances and not fall apart if they make a mistake.
Here are three other reports on the same study:
Standardized Test Scores Can Improve When Kids Told They Can Fail, Study Finds is from The Huffington Post.
When Have You Ever Failed at Something? What Happened as a Result? is from The New York Times Learning Network.
Sowing Failure, Reaping Success: What Failure Can Teach is also from The New York Times Learning Network.
Reducing Academic Pressure May Help Children Succeed is a report on Science Daily that begins:
Children may perform better in school and feel more confident about themselves if they are told that failure is a normal part of learning, rather than being pressured to succeed at all costs, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
Don’t “Quiet Fix” your mistakes
What Drives You Through Setbacks — An Olympic Example is from Dan Mulhern.
Failure Is the Next Opportunity is from The New York Times.
Why Journal Your Mistakes? is from The Mistake Bank.
Star math teacher applies the power of failure, squared is from The Globe and Mail.
Embracing Failure is a nice collection of useful articles from Diana Laufenberg.
“Fail Again, Fail Better” is a useful video compilation of quotes about failure. Unfortunately, one of them — by Ernest Hemingway — is not quite classroom appropriate:
I’ve posted a few times about the importance of, to borrow from Carol Dweck, “celebrating” our mistakes. We humans should take advantage of that ability, as this “Rubes” comic strip demonstrates:
Failure Preferred, Actually is by Rick Wormeli.
I don’t understand the number in this infographic related to Einstein, but I still think it can be a useful tool:
Additional suggestions are welcome.
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