If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. - Sir Ken Robinson
Much of what Robinson says resonates with me. But, perhaps this quote is the one idea that our students and I can walk with each day. As new students at Advanced Academics begin, I take note of the unusual looks and sly smiles from kids as I introduce the idea that being wrong, is well, kind of cool with us.
We are a different place to learn as we don't grade papers and give report cards. We don't need to. We simply document what students achieve in each learning strand and at what grade level in that strand they mastered concepts in. Done. Young children don't need grades. They need a strong self-understanding of what their learning targets are, ways to think about those concepts, and that making mistakes is part of the journey. This is the area that appropriate learning growth happens. Our students are now measuring themselves and are making an intrinsic connection with their journey, and embrace being wrong.
As I interact with students I talk about how certain things like memorizing multiplication tables was hard for me when I was a kid. In fact, I state that there are a handful of facts that I still need to think about to give you the answer. But, who cares, I can do some quick mental math. I have a strategy! I also talk about how useful having those facts memorized is. I give examples of when it has helped me to not only be able to recall facts easily, but knowing them allowed my brain to focus on the bigger task. I am showing them, it is not important to be perfect in everything. This really hits kids and you can see the exciting shift in their eyes. They can know that if the "teacher" isn't perfect and can be wrong, then they don't have to be either. This ability to pass-on-the-perfect and be wrong allows our students to relax and enjoy learning. Their ideas become the cream that rises to the top and we can follow and guide their thinking as they go down their own rabbit hole of learning in that strand.
We also challenge kids to do what gives us some anxiousness because the task feels hard. However, we also give them this gift of grace. They know that we expect them to be wrong. After several months now, we can see that grace in action as the students chase ideas and explore ways to solve problems. There is no one right answer or process in so much of what we encounter in life. This is where originality of thinking is allowed to develop.
This idea of being wrong and dropping exterior grading demands is a culture that is fostered with us. This is how, in fact, I can make each child and teacher feel good about their thinking. This is where being wrong, is well, exactly what is right.