Monday, January 11, 2016

Get over it

Get over the idea that making mistakes=being stupid.

When a couple of researchers were observing a Japanese classroom back in the 70s they were astounded to see a student very calmly work through a problem on the chalkboard, in front of his peers, for 45 minutes. They were amazed to realize that they felt more uncomfortable for him than he felt himself!

A prominent idea in the West, especially America, is that abilities like intelligence are largely innate. The Japanese, on the other hand, see intelligence as a function of effort. Thus, when Americans make mistakes, they see it as a failure of who they are, while the Japanese view mistakes as simply part of the learning process and evidence that you can work through something and improve.

Students praised for how bright and talented and special they are end up as adults who struggle to take personal responsibility for their mistakes. Admitting to any kind of failure feels like admitting that they’re not the exceptional person their parents told them they were.

The more you see success not as a function of inherent traits, but of effort and work, the less threatening making mistakes becomes.

 “Learn to see mistakes not as terrible personal failings to be denied or justified, but as inevitable aspects of life that help us grow, and grow up.”

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