Monday, February 13, 2012


Illustration by Max Amato

One of the greatest teaching tools and gifts that you can give a student is to share mistakes that you have made. Did you fail to proofread a memo to your boss and discover later that you made a grammatical error? Show it to your students. Did that fancy dessert you made for a potluck turn out horribly because you did the math wrong when you doubled the recipe? Laugh about it with your students. Did you get sudden stage fright on karaoke night and forget the melody? Replay it for your students. Did you have to revise your latest poem twenty-five times to get it right? Dig those 25 crumbled sheets out of the trash can and display them.

Whenever we are learning something new—whether we’re a kindergartner learning how to write the alphabet or a 50-year-old newbie taking beginner piano lessons—we assume we’re the only ones making mistakes. Sometimes new learners will give up rather than face the multitude of mistakes that are required to learn a new skill. Help your students to embrace their mistakes by sharing yours. Remember, the only real mistake is not trying.

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