A person learns the most when mistakes are viewed as lessons to learn from, rather than failures. It’s said that Thomas Edison himself did over 9,999 experiments trying to invent the light bulb, with no luck. On the ten-thousandth try he got it right. When asked how he could continue after experiencing so many failures, he assured the inquirer that he had not experienced a single failure; he had merely learned all of the ways that didn’t work, bringing him closer to the solution.
The real world depends on learning from mistakes as the source of motivation to take the next step. If our schools are to educate for the real world, they must give kids the opportunity to:
- be tested without fear of mistakes
- learn from the tests
- be given the opportunity to be retested
What’s the point of giving a weekly test, marking the grade, and moving on? How is one supposed to learn from this system?
What if kids could take tests without anxiety? We are completely devoted to “practice makes perfect” when it comes to sports, music, and dance—why not for academics? If no grades were attached to daily quizzes and weekly tests, students could practice and learn, and they could go back over the material they missed to find out what they don’t understand, or what they still need to memorize.
Learning to memorize is actually a very useful tool that one can take into adulthood. If we taught each child to memorize by using his/her learning style strengths, he/she would not only learn the content, but also the skill of memorizing. In this case, memorizing would no longer be an exercise in futility—a short- term objective to get a grade—it would be transformed into a valuable technique to be used throughout one’s life.
Using testing to teach rather than label helps all kids to learn content while they are also learning about how they learn. Instead of being graded on tests, students could be graded based on their effort and final outcome, after learning the material.
With this system, each child’s natural intelligence is valued and encouraged and each child experiences success. Experiencing many successes leads to confidence—which spills over into real life and sets the stage for experiencing accomplishments as adults.
Adapted from Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Willis and Hodson Copyright 2020 by VKHodson & MPelullo-Willis, Reflective Educational Perspectives, LLC / LearningSuccess™ Institute • reflectiveed.com, aselfportraitonline.com