Mistakes as incentive to learn
[I visit schools as a coach, I observe lessons and give teachers feedback.]
I was in the teachers’ copying room and I picked up a stray text from the photocopier. It looked like a newspaper article about the Napoleonic Wars. Without thinking, I started reading it as I walked to an empty chair in the staffroom. I sat down and continued to read.
There was something about this news article that was a bit curious. Naturally the Napoleonic Wars wouldn’t have been in the newspaper, nor on the radio, or TV for that matter, but there was something about the article that caught my attention, I read on.
About three-quarters of the way through the article, it hit me. Napoleon couldn’t possibly have heard the news from his generals on his walkie-talkie. I rushed ahead through the text and sure enough the text was full of small references to modernities that Napoleon could never have enjoyed. He could never had told Josephine that he loved her by sending a text message on his mobile phone.
Suddenly I had the urge to research the article to unveil the true dates, places and people...Then I read back through the first parts of the text, there were dates, and names of people and places that I had assumed were correct, but were they? Suddenly I had the urge to research the article to unveil the true dates, places and people; and indeed find out how Napoleon actually communicated with his generals. Was it pigeons, messengers on horseback, flags, mirrors?
At the end of a lesson you can use the Mistake Meter tool or the Self-grading tool to show your students that you value their taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them.
Ask students in turn at the end of the day, questions like these:
Prepare them for upcoming class activities that are more risky.
Let the students give themselves a grade from 1 to 10 for their willingness to make mistakes. "How willing were you to make mistakes today? How did that affect how much you learned?"
For some students, challenges their grade by asking them to justify their grade in some way.
CAtE book, available on Amazon (click the picture)
Coaching Tools, available for download (click the picture)
Teacher, facilitator and coach; Martin Richards trains educators to use a coaching approach all the work they do.