Building on from my post last week about the importance of mistakes, today I’m wondering about the difference between what I might call personal mistakes, e.g. in calculating something, and social mistake, e.g. hurting someone’s feelings. I’m certain that every kind of mistake is a learning process, but I am wondering if our brains react in similar ways to what seems like qualitatively different types of mistakes. Within those categories, I’d break them down further in mistakes of we make because we are in Zone of Proximal Development, when our brain is being really challenged, and mistakes we make because we just weren’t paying attention (what people often call “careless mistakes,” and what I might call mistakes of distraction.
It seems clear that mistakes that fall in the top right quadrant are evidence of hard work and learning. These are mistakes that undeniably help me, as long as I have a growth mindset and am encouraged by a challenge. The other ones seem less obviously helpful, though. I wonder if there have been studies done that show the impact on our brains of these other types of mistakes? Is actually making the mistake evidence of learning, or only the act of going back and fixing it up? What do you think? What do you see in your own and your learners’ mistake-making? Do you agree or disagree with the way I’ve categorised mistakes above? What would you change or add?
On a lighter note, it’s summer here in Aotearoa, and I’ve been enjoying the first week of school fueled by heaps of green smoothies with banana and spinach – like ice cream in a glass, but healthy! – and coconut water, which besides being delicious and refreshing, is packed with natural electrolytes to replenish energy after I cycle to and from work on these hot days. I’m really pleased to have found cans of pure coconut water on discount at my local Chinese grocery, so I’m not tempted to buy Tetra packs or anything else that’s not easily recyclable. I’ve been on a gradual plastic-free journey, and have nearly eliminated plastic from my food purchases. I find buying in bulk and shopping at groceries instead of big supermarkets helps a lot. It’s been illuminating to realise how much I used to buy in plastic that I actually just didn’t need. Now if I can get it only in plastic, I try to do without/substitute something else, and it’s easier than you’d think!
Hope you’re all staying cool and comfy! I look forward to reading your ideas about mistakes. 😊 ✌️