In my sports psychology class I am reading a lot these days about coaching and how to handle your athletes’ mistakes. But what I think about most when I read this material is how it translates to the classroom and our little ones. If you teach in a play-based environment, then one of the goals should be to create an environment in your classroom that encourages mistakes. Lots of them. Play-based atmospheres ideally allow for experimentation and risk-taking because we want these kiddos to try new things for themselves, explore the world of cause and effect, trial and error, and practice persistence. Here’s why:
The Lifeblood Of Learning
“Mistakes are the lifeblood of learning. Without the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them, learning shrivels up. One of the reasons mature people are apt to learn less than young people is that they are willing to risk less. Learning is a risky business, and they do not like failure. In infancy, when children are learning at a phenomenal rate-a rate they will never again achieve-they are also experiencing a great many failures. Watch them. See the innumerable times they try and fail. See how little the failures discourage them. With each year that passes they will be less blithe about failure. By adolescence the willingness of young people to risk failure has diminished greatly. And all too often parents push them further along that road by instilling fear, by punishing failure or by making success seem too precious. By middle age most of us carry in our heads a tremendous catalogue of things we have no intention of trying again because we tried them once and failed-or tried them once and did less well than our self-esteem demanded. Fear of making mistakes is a paralyzing force that robs people of spontaneity, love of life, and a willingness to try new things. It is the no-buts approach to mistakes that gives the sense of psychological and emotional freedom that can unlock the learning process”.
Jim Thompson. Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-Esteem Through Sports.