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Author, journalist for The New York Times, and mother of two wonderful boys

The example I give regarding

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The example I give regarding Japan does not come from personal experience but from extensive academic research. I devote a chapter in my book, "Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong," to cultural differences in viewing mistakes and much of it focuses on Asia, primarily Japan, and North America.

Some of the key researchers in this area are Steven Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, Hazel Markus, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, and James Stigler, a professor of psychology at UCLA.

Catherine Lewis also wrote a book in 1995 entitled "Educating Hearts and Minds:Reflections on Japanese Preschool and Elementary Education" that delves into this subject.

EFL Teacher in Japan

I'm a big encourager of

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I'm a big encourager of mistakes in the classroom so I was happy to find this post, but I must admit I was surprised at the comment about Japanese classrooms. I actually stumbled across your article because I was looking for materials to have my Japanese students read which would encourage them to make mistakes! I'm not sure where you got the information that there's no shame in Japanese classrooms, but if it's from personal experience, then I feel confident in saying that your experience can't be generalized to all classes.

At my school, students are very afraid to speak up. Most teachers need to call on students because they won't speak up on their own. I try very hard and in different ways to encourage my students to volunteer in class and not worry about mistakes. However, a couple times I have had to resort to calling on students. When I asked them in private later why they didn't volunteer, their response has always been some variation of "I was afraid I would be wrong." Most students only volunteer if they're very confident. Students will try their best when called upon, but it's not because of a lack of fear or shame; it seems to be out of respect for the teacher who called upon them. From conversations with other teachers, I've learned that this fear of being wrong extends to other classes and to other schools, too.

I'm wondering if you have more information about this school if it is a personal experience of yours-- e.g. what they are doing that's different from the majority of schools I'm familiar with. If not, I'd be interested in hearing some other, stronger examples of places where students feel comfortable with making mistakes. But overall, it was nice to read from the perspective of a supporter of mistake-making. Thank you.

Educational Consultant/Author, Southern California

Kids are excellent scientists

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Kids are excellent scientists and have no fear of trial and error until adults label error with grades and negative consequences. Talked about squelching the love of learning!

Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

Anyone read this book yet?

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Anyone read this book yet? "Fostering Grit - How do I prepare my students for the real world?" by Thomas R. Hoerr

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Fostering-Grit.aspx

I heard him speak at ASCD and was very intrigued with everything he was saying about growth and fixed mindsets. His examples were also powerful.

co-founder I am Bullyproof Music

Bless our Mess!

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Love your insight! We have a song/lesson plan called "Messy" which teaches students to appreciate the wisdom they gain through making mistakes rather than feeling deflated every time they aren't perfect. As you can imagine, it's one of our most popular song/lessons.This is an amazing article. Pinning, tweeting, facebooking. Thanks for pointing all this out. btw When I work w/kids, I often make mistakes, then correct myself in front of them. Part of the lesson :-)

making mistakes

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One said to error is human. Mistakes have to be accepted. We have saying in Africa that says making a mistake is no big deal, a mistake when you repeat the same mistake. I am in the field of training health workers, and you know a mistake there sometimes my cost a life. So in medical education we introduced skillslab to allow mistakes and subsequently learning. I know even in the physical sciences lifes may lost ie electrocution,chemical or physical burns- we have to teach caution

First grade teacher from North Bergen, New Jersey

teacher

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I see a lot of students who are afraid of raising their hands and making a mistake. It hurts me to know that students are afraid of making mistakes. In my class, I try to teach students that making mistakes is the only way at getting better. When I have parent teacher conferences, I try to explain to the parents that their grade does not really reflect who they are and what they are capable of doing and/or learning. Some parents understand and others still push their child to do better which sometimes puts a lot of distress on the student. This makes them less motivated. It is hard to make the balance of what I, as a teacher is teaching them, and what their parents are teaching and telling them.

fifth grade teacher from Fargo, North Dakota

one more thing

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I also feel that if we are choosing multiple ways of assessment in the classroom, we are going to see the student in his/her best light and probably learn a lot about the student. Yes, he/she will make mistakes, but we're human. Looking at a variety of assessments will allow us as teachers to make the best academic decisions for our students.

fifth grade teacher from Fargo, North Dakota

GREAT reminder

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I think this is a great reminder. I think so often as teachers, we get so caught-up in reading, worksheets, and tests, that we sometimes forget the important of REALLY understanding the material. You made a good point when you said, "do you really know why you got that answer wrong." I do sometimes have students correct their mistakes in a test, but I feel like I get so caught-up in the TIME in takes to go through a test a second time (on top of all the other grading and testing done throughout the day), that to me it almost doesn't seem worth it. I agree that students do need to make mistakes to learn. I think that is important. As their classroom teacher, I always tell them that I too make mistakes, and that it is okay to do that.

Educational Consultant and Parent

I agree wholeheartedly and as

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I agree wholeheartedly and as a parent am amazed that my child will simply get a graded test handed back. When I ask if she understands why something was marked incorrect, she replies "no, we just got it back". A critical role in learning is review of assessment - why was an answer incorrect? Why was the mistake made - was it because there were tricky answers designed to throw you? Was it that a student didn't read the question correctly? Or was the calculation/comprehension at fault? If a student is not given an explanation of what made it wrong, they have no way of knowing how to correct their thinking. Students should be given the opportunity to conference with the teacher on questions they didn't understand if a teacher doesn't have time to review incorrect answers on a whole-class schedule.

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