Posted by: crudbasher | June 21, 2010

What We Learn From Being Wrong

There is a new book just out from Kathryn Schulz called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. I haven’t read it but I did find this excerpt on the Boston Globe website.

It’s a fascinating topic especially for teachers.  We don’t really allow for being wrong in school.  I had to ponder that for a while before I realized why.  It’s because the pace of school isn’t driven by learning, it’s driven by time.  You have x amount of time to teach as much as you can to your students.  If they don’t get it, too bad, time to move on.  Some students who really don’t get it have to repeat the grade.

There is a massive stigma attached to being wrong in school.  The SAT, FCAT, ACT and a whole bunch of other tests will determine which college you can go to, and how you are judge by the system in general.  Naturally the problem with this is some people are very smart and yet don’t do well on those kinds of tests.  In a way this might work out best for those students because they will be forced to find a different path in life.

If we can move to a personalized learning model rather than a factory model, there will be time for being wrong.  More importantly there will be time for the students to learn from their mistakes.

I have said before the way we will know a personalized education system is: when a student starts a personalized education process, nobody will have any idea as to how long it will take, nor where they will end up at the end.

  • Excerpt from a new book about getting things wrong. Nice.

    tags: book, wrong, error

    • Is there anything at once so routine and so loathed as the revelation that we were mistaken? Like the exam that’s returned to us covered in red ink, being wrong makes us cringe and slouch down in our seats. It makes our hearts sink and our dander rise.
    • Sometimes we hate being wrong because of the consequences.
    • Being wrong, we feel, signals something terrible about us.
    • As ashamed as we may feel of our mistakes, they are not a byproduct of all that’s worst about being human. On the contrary: They’re a byproduct of all that’s best about us. We don’t get things wrong because we are uninformed and lazy and stupid and evil. We get things wrong because we get things right. The more scientists understand about cognitive functioning, the more it becomes clear that our capacity to err is utterly inextricable from what makes the human brain so swift, adaptable, and intelligent.
    • Misunderstanding our mistakes in this way — seeing them as evidence of flaws and an indictment of our overall worth — exacts a steep toll on us, in private and public life alike. Doing so encourages us to deny our own errors and despise ourselves for making them. It permits us to treat those we regard as wrong with condescension or cruelty. It encourages us to make business and political leaders of those who refuse to entertain the possibility that they are mistaken. And it impedes our efforts to prevent errors in domains, such as medicine and aviation, where we truly cannot afford to get things wrong.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike, Andrew Barras. Andrew Barras said: New Post: What We Learn From Being Wrong #edchat […]

  2. As a society we are ashamed of being wrong and avoid it at all costs. In fact a lot of times instead of owning up to our mistake or being wrong, we lie to cover it up, even when the evidence is clearly not in our favor (thinking of some recent TV personalities in politics lately). This is ingrained into us throughout our schooling. We don’t have time to be wrong. We need the right answer (at least most of the time) and then move on. This has got to change.

    • I wonder how much of societies fear of being wrong comes from the schools? School is the place to be wrong as long as eventually you start to become right. 🙂

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