Having worked in the corporate world for over a decade I am constantly found lamenting about the lack of creativity and originality in the people who work with us. I long to see a young soul who has the ability to think differently and the ability to come up with new thoughts. I realize that one the biggest reason for that is our schooling. For 16 to 18 years we condition our children and train them to do what is right, infact all their lives are spent in pursuit of doing the right things. We reward them and acknowledge them when they are right. The problem is the manner in which we treat them when we make mistakes. Right from a very early age we families instill in children the fear of making mistakes and failure. This is further strengthened once they reach school and from then on it is a constant and consistent dosage of fear that is fed to them and they all grow up with a mortal fear of making mistakes.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”- These words of Albert Einstein are so true. The only ones that seem to make mistakes in our society are the rebels who choose to look the other way when the whole world around shows them the ‘Right’ path.
One of the safest places for a child to make mistakes should have been the school environment, unfortunately schools literally function like courts doling out different levels of corrective measures and punitive actions for any mistake children do.
Interestingly teachers of the co-scholastic subjects seem to score a lot better with regards to the mistakes that children make. Be it the PT masters or the sports instructors or the hobby facilitators or art guides, they all seem to understand the importance of making mistakes in learning the skills and nuances of their field. The predominant problem lies with the subject teachers and their single minded obsession to ensure that all children get it ‘Right’.
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one” – Elbert Hubbard
One of the biggest lessons that we could teach in schools is to give the courage to our children to make mistakes. This will give them the confidence to explore themselves, the world around them and lead them to a path of fresh thinking and innovation. The world we live in today has so many social, environmental, political, economic problems for which the present generation has no solutions. The future generation has the onus of finding solutions to the problems we are creating today, if we do not equip them with the confidence to try new things and make new mistakes it will be a very grey future.
As heads of schools if we do not have the ability to encourage our teachers to make mistakes, we will never create learning institutions that teach the magic of making mistakes to our future generations.