Check out my New York Times post for English Language Learners is on pronouns, learning from mistakes, and J.K. Rowling. It includes a student interactive and teaching ideas….
‘a Mistake is a Door to Discovery’ is the headline of the fifth and final installment in my Education Week Teacher series on making mistakes in the classroom.
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 some additional related resources.
Here are my choices for The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures:
Of course, Michael Jordan commercial is a classic:
On the importance of failure by Cedar Riener
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, “ 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 :
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, 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 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.
Hearing about scientists’ struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning is a pretty self-explanatory headline about the results of a new study.
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 “Rubes” comic strip demonstrates:
Failure Preferred, Actually is by Rick Wormeli.
I don’t understand the number in infographic related to Einstein, but I still think it can be a useful tool:
Here’s to failing forward. pic.twitter.com/zgZlfrRXGy
— John Gunnell (@gunnellAP) July 27, 2013
Making Friends With Failure is a good piece at Edutopia.
Learning from Our Mistakes is a thoughtful post from Katie Nonesuch.
23 Incredibly Successful People Who Failed At First is from Business Insider.
Memories of errors foster faster learning is from Science Daily.
Science Confirms It: If You Want To Succeed, You Have To Screw Up is from Co-Create.
Wearing Your Failures on Your Sleeve is from The New York Times.
— Milton Ramirez (@tonnet) November 9, 2014
It’s a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes as Part of the Learning Process is from Edutopia.
Here’s a new report on a study about the value of making mistakes — from the Pacific Standard.
Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom, 2nd Edition is a great book by Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey. A chapter is available online for free, and it’s worth reading. The chapter is titled Why Check for Understanding?, and I think the section on distinguishing between mistakes and errors is outstanding.
Five-Minute Film Festival: Freedom to Fail Forward is a great video collection from Edutopia.
Mistakes Are Not All Created Equal is by Eduardo Briceno.
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) December 19, 2015
The School of Life has published a fascinating video on the history of failure. It’s really interesting, though I think gets lost a bit at the end when focusing just on capitalism today as the primary reason why failure is not considered “noble” any longer (and I speak as no big fan of capitalism).
Here is a short summary of it:
Greeks – failure good
Roman – failure bad
early Christianity and Buddhist- failure good
Napoleon and meritocracy – failure bad and deserved
19th and 20 century art — genius at first rejected and then become successful
Occupy Movement pushes that financial success for a few is failure for everyone else, and argues for new definition of success.
Failure is noble has disappeared today because of capitalism run amok
More on the Unheralded but Highly Effective Technique #10: Own and Track is by Doug Lemov.
10 Wildly Successful People on How They View Failure is from Fortune.
— Quartz (@qz) March 25, 2016
— BBC iWonder (@BBCiWonder) March 24, 2016
Seeing the benefits of failure shapes kids’ beliefs about intelligence is from Eureka Alert.
Supreme Court Justice Justice Sotomayor spoke about the value of mistakes in a recent commencement address.
FEAR IS THE ENEMY OF SUCCESS—AN ELITE COACH ON EMBRACING ERROR is from Doug Lemov.
— The Economist (@EconCulture) September 28, 2016
— Better Make Room (@BetterMakeRoom) September 26, 2016
Dilbert shows why we need 2encourage stdnts 2make mistakes &also prepare them 4 how those errors r perceived outside https://t.co/D6EUiGyTvC
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) October 5, 2016
How To Feel Good About Making Mistakes is from Psy Blog, and is a summary of a recent study.
HOW DANI QUINN USES SHOW ME TO CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING is from Doug Lemov.
— Daniel Willingham (@DTWillingham) March 21, 2017
How you change as a teacher as you get older. pic.twitter.com/MsYlSInbGN
— Tom Bennett (@tombennett71) July 7, 2017
— Mashup Math (@mashupmath) July 5, 2017
Why we need ups and downs in our life. This is a good example of it. Who goes faster. pic.twitter.com/mjmv1z7fXv
— Roberto A. González (@robertoglezcano) July 5, 2017
On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus is from The New York Times.
This Is The ‘Harry Potter’ Synopsis Publishers Rejected Over 20 Years Ago is from The Huff Post.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) November 20, 2017
Why We Should Embrace Mistakes in School is from Greater Good Magazine.
The Righr Kind of Mistakes pic.twitter.com/jl1e7OYZ5f
— Barron Ryan (@barroncp) December 22, 2017
“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’” -Dr. Carol Dweck #growth #7days7questions #launchstrong2018 #leadershipdevelopment #inspiredinsights #growthmindset pic.twitter.com/e9F7OVgMhq
— InspireCorpsCo (@InspireCorpsCo) December 21, 2017
— Kevin Adams (@AppsAdams) December 18, 2017
Being wrong isn’t a bad thing like they teach you in school. It an opportunity to learn something. pic.twitter.com/LOxF3RwlQa
— Richard Feynman (@ProfFeynman) December 18, 2017
Latest ‘Star Wars’ Teaches The Value Of Failure is from NPR.
— Shanna Peeples (@ShannaPeeples) December 25, 2017
Navy Kicker Turns Last-Second Loss into a Lesson in Leadership is from The New York Times.
“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”#students #growthmindset #Mindset #Growth #motivation #effort #education #edchat #educators #classroom #EdLeaders https://t.co/FotskFYQvw
— Brainology (@Brainology) January 4, 2018
Want students to value failure? SLA advertises failures literally on their walls, these are stories from teachers about times they failed and how they dealt with it. #Educon pic.twitter.com/HP5hZKd9CI
— Brian Hodges (@bhodge2727) January 26, 2018
— Mashup Math (@mashupmath) February 6, 2018
Er. Converting that quote into a classroom question: “For what question would this answer be correct?”
— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) February 24, 2018
A student’s wrong answer is most often the right answer to a different but related question. (A quote from my undergraduate advisor, Bob Davis, that still serves me in the classroom.) pic.twitter.com/8i1dABon0R
— Marilyn Burns (@mburnsmath) February 23, 2018
When ‘Failure is Ok’ Is Not Ok.
“For low-income & #firstgen students to persevere, one of the first steps needs to be inclusiveness.”#WeLeadEd #education #highered #Edleaders #Educolor #EquityinEd @uclacenterx @LMUsoe @LMUDoctoral @alsernabjj pic.twitter.com/F4wxMp89WE
— Dr. Rosa Perez-Isiah (@RosaIsiah) April 1, 2018
The Value of Failing is from The Atlantic.
Making mistakes while studying actually helps you learn better is from Science Daily.
Talking About Failure Is Crucial for Growth. Here’s How to Do It Right. is from The NY Times.
I Got Rejected 101 Times is from The NY Times.
Do You Keep a Failure Résumé? Here’s Why You Should Start. is from The NY Times.
When A Lesson Goes Wrong is from The Teaching Channel.
How to Turn Failure into Success is from Scientific American.
The Golden State Warriors have been a great source of Social Emotional Learning lessons (see The Best Ways To Use Stephen Curry & The Warriors For Teaching Social Emotional Learning Skills).
Here’s another addition to that list – a new video of guard Klay Thompson “talking” to Failure:
And, while I’m at it, the last few seconds of this interview with Kevin Durant would also be a good clip to show students when talking about how to deal with failure. He had a terrible game two days ago (he bounced back big time last night). He says, “I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am.”
Three Ways To Grow From Failure appeared in Forbes.
— T Magazine (@tmagazine) May 20, 2019
“It’s OK. You missed a shot. All of us have. Nobody’s perfect.”
THIS LEADERSHIP from Draymond>>>>> pic.twitter.com/XyRl2KYAUP
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) May 19, 2019
“There is no failure as long as you learn from your experience, continue to work, and continue to press on for success.” #MayaAngelou
— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) September 25, 2019
Just missing a big opportunity may be good for your career.
Study examined 1000+ young scientists. Half barely won a big grant; half just missed winning.
A decade later, the near-missers were producing higher-impact work.
Lesson: Stay in the fight. https://t.co/3vquao54Ww
— Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) October 21, 2019
How Early-Career Setbacks Can Set You Up for Success is from The NY Times.
Which type of mistakes have you planned for your pupils?
— Impact (@ImpactWales) September 21, 2019
The long-term benefits of losing, according to science is from Fast Company.
‘Sesame Street’ Is Highlighting a Forgotten Skill: Failing is from Medium.
Helping Kids See How Math Mistakes Can Help is from Middleweb.
How to Create a Classroom That’s a Safe Space for Failure is from Ed Surge.
The Tipping Point Between Failure and Success is from The Harvard Business Review.
— Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) April 10, 2020
People Don’t Share Their Failures Often Enough is from Psychology Today.
I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes I think I’ll make some more… is from The Hands Up Project.
Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities is from EFL Magazine.
Character Lab shared some good resources about helping students learn from failure: The Stories We Tell, which is a commentary by Angela Duckworth; a useful study she cites in her piece; and a lesson and student hand-out from Character Lab.
To Increase Persistence, Write About Success is by Angela Duckworth.
How Some Mistakes Can be Generative for Teachers and Students Alike is from Mindshift.
How To Cope With Failure, According To Psychology is from Research Digest.
Why you don’t learn from failure is from Character Lab.
Reflecting on @ddmeyer‘s Math without Mistakes:
I had a math professor that once asked us, “If I had a box for all of the correct math I have done and one for all of the wrong math, which would be bigger?”
I share this with my Ss every year.
— Abbey Turchyn (@Mathkies) May 6, 2021
“What question did this student answer correctly? What aspects of her thinking can I see through this window? Why would I want a mirror when this window is so much more interesting?” @ddmeyer This glorious “mistake” led to the richest discussion of the school year to date…@tdsb pic.twitter.com/OS7qwdjkZ3
— Neil Casey (@MrCasey27) September 20, 2021
And yeah I think we generally prepare math teachers pretty well to explain right answer but not how to turn wrong answers into productive learning experiences.
— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) December 2, 2021
Learning the Right Way to Struggle is from The NY Times.
Intercom has published a useful lesson plan called Peer Review – Celebrate Successes and Mistakes.
Students need to make mistakes – here’s how to learn from them is from Inner Drive.
How to Learn from Your Failures is from Greater Good Magazine.
If You’re Not Failing, You’re Not Learning is from Edutopia.
Now here’s a quote that we all can learn from, and use with our students, too! https://t.co/uOC0BEgt1E
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) February 14, 2023
Failure Is Key to Learning. Help Students See It That Way is from Ed Week.
Great answer Giannis. Great athlete and great leadership sir. https://t.co/u6TVfLyEQl
— Shana V. White (she/her) (@ShanaVWhite) April 27, 2023
— Jill Barshay (@jillbarshay) April 29, 2023
Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, highlighting the break using gold,
Celebrating the beauty of imperfections, seeing flaws and repairs as part of a life story rather than the end of usefulness.
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) October 3, 2023
Let’s Talk About Our Failures is from The Harvard Business Review.
Learn by Failing? Not So Easy is from The Chicago Booth Review.
What Have You Learned From Failure? is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Strength Training Isn’t About Success. It’s About Failure. is from Slate.
Additional suggestions are welcome.
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