If this is the attitude all of us had, we would have better employees, better relationships, a more productive society, and most of all extremely successful young learners
When you first started cycling, did you not fall?
When you first started cooking, did you not mess up?
When you first started learning to play a sport, how long did it take for you to make the first goal/shot?
If your teacher/parent had judged you harshly every time you fell from the cycle, or just cycled instead of you, you would never have probably learnt well.
If your parent / sister/ teacher / brother ran beside you knowing you would fall, and they were there to help you get up after you fell, or just to prevent major accidents, that is when you learnt well, building confidence in yourself.
A young child needs the same level of security blanket knowing someone will be there to help if they need it. But they do not need someone to judge them when they make mistakes.
When parents walk in to a new school with their children for admission, it is but natural for parents to show the principal what the child already knows. When the child is given a material to play with, the first instinct of the parents is to correct the child if they feel the child is using it wrongly / making a mistake. The parent feels the child / parent will be judged based on this, and hence is anxious about the child’s performance.
Why does a parent want to ensure that their child never fails. It is because it is a reflection on their parenting. So if a child is “successful ”, you would find a parent / school taking credit for it, saying we helped him. Often the children who are truly successful are the ones who get most neglected. So they have ample opportunities to fall, make errors and correct themselves. We find more often that with affluent parents, who have the resources and time to watch every move of their child, the children often find few opportunities to learn on their own.
The school on the other hand is also watching closely and “evaluating” the child’s worthiness. It is obviously much easier for schools to work with children who already have the “required” skills acquired by rote learning or any other way. So that the teachers do not have to expend energy teaching them too much.
With so much pressure from one side and anxiety on the other, the child is set up for failure
Once the parents let go of this anxiety and the school stops judging, the child also sheds his fear of failure and becomes more experimental and enjoys his learning process.
In Early Years, children are confident and have no memories of failure and hence nothing drawing them back. They are eager learners and want more and more. All that is needed is to allow them to keep experimenting and give them concrete self learning experiences that will not have any fear of failure attached to them. With self correcting materials, the child corrects his own mistakes and proceeds gleefully to the next step, having drawn from the mistakes and experiences.
However if it is required for an adult to step in each time to correct his learning process, then he is being set up for a non self learning process, always looking to an adult for correction and future learning. Adults are also not the most objective people typically always looking to correct mistakes.
Research proves the child has a constructive mind. He builds on the experiences he has. Every mistake he makes is an experience, and opportunity to learn. Then why do we as adults/ teachers/ parents deprive children of opportunities to make mistakes.
When the child makes a mistake, our job is to not chastise him/ judge him. We must wait for the time that the experience takes to make him do better next time, and learn well.
And our job as teachers is to provide the child with the right environment that has opportunities to make constructive mistakes that help him learn.