“The less you do, the less mistakes you can make” – In Praise of Mistakes & Errors: more thoughts from #IATEFL2017

This is just a short post rant to share with you something Andrew Wright said during his workshop at the IP & SEN SIG Pre-conference day at IATEFL 2017 in Glasgow.

Andrew talked about a boy who having only written a couple of lines for a presentation in class, explained his reasoning with the quote in the title.

For me this represents the mentality many of my students have or are in the process of developing, but more importantly and worryingly it represents the ethos of my country’s education system, and also that of many of my colleagues.

When did we become a race of people scared to take risks? Is this how fire was discovered? Is this how the lightbulb and internet were developed?

When a baby learns to walk does he fall down a couple of times and then decide “this isn’t for me”?

Let us instead praise and celebrate errors, for they are the path to knowledge.

However it’s not just enough to talk the talk, it’s equally important – and more difficult – to share our mistakes with our students, we can’t pretend to be perfect and get all defensive when we get something wrong and expect our students to take risks in the classroom.

Let’s be brave, tell students when you’ve brought the wrong book, or made a mistake on a test or worksheet (play spot the error!). Share stories with them of that cake you made with salt instead of sugar – or is that only me?!

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About fabenglishteacher

I've been teaching English for a few years now and this blog is part of my never-ending quest to make learning English more fun, and easier for my students.
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One Response to “The less you do, the less mistakes you can make” – In Praise of Mistakes & Errors: more thoughts from #IATEFL2017

  1. Marc says:

    I agree. There needs to be some slack given. People are human. Point out areas to improve. Maddening stuff is still maddening but does it make an iota of difference if John left his pens at home or Sue got confused by the homework so did the wrong pages. Going out on a limb here, I’ll say no. Thank you for writing this!

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