We’re not in the business of ‘getting things right’

Principals Pen Thursday, 25 Feb 2021

Today’s society places a lot of pressure on people to ‘get things right’. There are times when it’s good to get things right. For example, when we’re preparing a gift or manufacturing a product for someone else, a measured and refined approach expresses respect, care and service.

But schools are not in the business of ‘getting things right’. We’re in the business of learning.

You see, if our focus is on students ‘getting things right’, then our focus is on students demonstrating what they already know. That’s not learning. Learning is messy, imperfect and unpredictable, and it happens through making mistakes.

A synapse is an electrical or chemical signal between neurons in the brain. Neuroscientific researchers have found that when we make a mistake, synapses fire and our brain grows. If the neuroscience is not enticing enough, an abundance of psychology studies has found that generating mistakes before receiving explicit teaching instruction, results in greater long-term retention.

Anchored in an intentional and unceasing focus on growth mindset, Living Faith classrooms have a mistake-seeking and mistake-celebrating culture. Students learn to overcome the baggage and negative connotations that society links to failure and, instead, cheerfully embrace the knowledge that mistakes lead to learning. They recognise that mistakes are not an end-point, but are an essential stepping stone to success. Our classrooms are environments that promote, encourage and celebrate mistakes, as we recognise that deep and authentic long-term learning is triggered through curiosity, wonder and unstructured exploration.

Writers have converted neuroscientific and psychology studies in relation to mistakes and failure, into simple, everyday language. A very small sample is listed here.

When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel. Eloise Ristad

- Jane Mueller, Principal