'make mistakes' photo (c) 2010, Mike Gifford - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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.

The Best Ways To Use Mistakes When Teaching Writing

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:

What Does Learning From Mistakes Do To Your Brain?

Of course, Michael Jordan commercial is a classic:

On the importance of failure by Cedar Riener

There’s a great website called “Admitting Failure.” (thanks to Change The Equation for the tip)

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).

What Is The Accurate Edison Quote On Learning From Failure?

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:

9 Reasons Why Failure Is Not Fatal

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.

“We Should Celebrate Mistakes”

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.

Videos Of Students Celebrating Making 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.

Learning From Brilliant Mistakes and Finding Opportunity in Failures are both articles and videos related to Paul J.H. Schoemaker’s book, ‘Brilliant Mistakes.’

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.”

Fascinating Study On What Learning From Mistakes Does To The Brain

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:

For Better Learning, Failure Is An Option

Reducing Academic Pressure May Help Children Succeed

Standardized Test Scores Can Improve When Kids Told They Can Fail, Study Finds is from The Huffington Post.

Videotaping Helps ESL Students Recognize Their Good Mistakes – and Learn from Them! is from Eric Roth.

“When You Fail, You Are Learning”

Teddy Roosevelt On Failure

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.

Excellent Commencement Address On Failure By Atul Gawande

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.

Math Mistakes is a cool website I learned about from Dan Meyer.

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:

To Fail Or Not To Fail — That Is The Question

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:

Source: gocomics.com via Larry on Pinterest

Failure Preferred, Actually is by Rick Wormeli.

Quote Of The Day: the difference between “blameworthy” & “praiseworthy” failure

I don’t understand the number in infographic related to Einstein, but I still think it can be a useful tool:

Quote Of The Day: Talking About Failure



Making Friends With Failure is a good piece at Edutopia.

“How To Make Better Mistakes”

Quote Of The Day – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stumbles: ‘There’s always a next move’

Video (& Writing Prompt): “A failure isn’t a failure if it prepares you for success tomorrow”

Grit, Failure & Stuff Like That

Learning from Our Mistakes is a thoughtful post from Katie Nonesuch.

23 Incredibly Successful People Who Failed At First is from Business Insider.

Two Good Videos On How We Learn & How I Plan To Use Them In Class

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.

Learning From Failure

Wearing Your Failures on Your Sleeve is from The New York Times.

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.

The Difference Between Failures and Mistakes

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.

Good Videos On A Growth Mindset, The Importance Of Learning From Mistakes & A Lot More

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.


New Study Finds Value In Looking As Mistakes As Positive Learning Experiences

Check out my Ed Week series on teaching mistakes and what we can learn from them….

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

I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

Quote Of The Day: Connecting Failure & Creativity

More on the Unheralded but Highly Effective Technique #10: Own and Track is by Doug Lemov.

Study: Learning About Failures Of Famous Scientists Improves Student Achievement

Quote Of The Day: Caution On Celebration Of Failure

Adam Grant On Failure & How I’m Using What He Says In Class

10 Wildly Successful People on How They View Failure is from Fortune.

Quote Of The Day: Buzz Aldrin on Failure

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.

Study: “you want to speak to the brilliance, but you also need to speak to the struggle”

Video & Transcript Of President Obama’s Speech – Plus Writing Prompt on “Making Mistakes”

Armless Table Tennis Paralympian Teaches A Zillion Lessons


Guest Post: Making It Safe For Students To Struggle

A Lesson in Leadership: 2 Football Coaches, 2 Players’ Mistakes, and 2 Very Different Reactions

New Study Connects Growth Mindset & “Bouncing Back” From Mistakes

How To Feel Good About Making Mistakes is from Psy Blog, and is a summary of a recent study.


Useful New Study On Resilience & “At Risk Students”

On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus is from The New York Times.

Space X Releases Video Of All Their Failures – Perfect For Teaching The Value Of Making Mistakes

This Is The ‘Harry Potter’ Synopsis Publishers Rejected Over 20 Years Ago is from The Huff Post.

Why We Should Embrace Mistakes in School is from Greater Good Magazine.

Latest ‘Star Wars’ Teaches The Value Of Failure is from NPR.

Navy Kicker Turns Last-Second Loss into a Lesson in Leadership is from The New York Times.

Perseverance & Kwame Alexander

Nick Foles Just Gave Teachers A Gift Of A Great SEL Lesson

Video: Herbie Hancock Talks About How Miles Davis Handled “Mistakes”

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.

There are three types of failure, but only one you should actually feel bad about is from Quartz.

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.


Video: Failures Can Make You Want To “Vow Revenge”

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.


How Early-Career Setbacks Can Set You Up for Success is from The NY Times.


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.

People Don’t Share Their Failures Often Enough is from Psychology Today.


Reframing Achievement Setbacks: A Motivation Intervention to Improve 8-Year Graduation Rates for Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields is a new research paper.

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.

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.

Failure Is Key to Learning. Help Students See It That Way is from Ed Week.


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.

The surprising effectiveness of having kids study why they failed is from The Hechinger Report.

How To Fail Right is from The Harvard Business Review.

Error climate and alienation from teachers: A longitudinal analysis in primary school is a new study.

Tapping into the Metacognition of Mistakes is from Edutopia.

Learn by Failing? Not So Easy is an interesting video and article. The researchers suggest that we tend to learn more from hearing about other people’s failures than from our own, which promotes the importance of talking about when we’ve failed.

A constructive error climate as an element of effective learning environments is a newish research paper.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

If you’ve found list helpful, you might want to consider subscribing to blog for free.

You might want to also view the over seven hundred other “The Best…” lists.