Learning from Mistakes

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently (Henry Ford).

Separating learning and achievement

This basic pattern focusses on the importance of mistakes as an opportunity to learn from them. This however is only possible if committing mistakes is allowed in lessons without the student being criticized or embarrassed. Students should be praised for their success in learning rather than being critizised. Students learn best if they are allowed to commit mistakes and if they are given the opportunity to investigate their approach and mistake scientifically. Mistake as an opportunity for learning is an ideal approach for both teachers and students.

How to deal with mistakes more effectively

The following items help to gain a new point of view:

  • avoiding mistakes is not a useful learning strategy
  • mistakes can give useful information about a student’s ideas and his or her way of thinking
  • the deletion of a mistake may cause its repetition
  • proper mistake analysis may help to avoid its repetition

How to achieve an effective way of dealing with mistakes

  • shift of emphasis: trying to find a solution may be as important as actually finding one
  • allowing a great variety of ideas: one’s own way of investigating (even when following the wrong track) often contains more effective possibilities to learn than simply copying traditional methods
  • each opinion counts: unconventional ideas and those differing from the main stream are important and useful
  • analysis and its consequence: mistake analysis may lead to new knowledge