Volume 31 Issue 19 24 Jun 2022 25 Sivan 5782

Primary News

Felicity Donahue – Co-ordinator of Gifted & Talented (K-6)

Mistakes help us learn

This is a common phrase uttered by students and teachers throughout the day. Mistakes are a key element of the learning process and can be one of our most powerful teaching tools. Mistakes can help us to understand potential gaps in learning, focus teaching towards clarifying a misunderstanding in order to progress to more challenging concepts. 

Teachers make mistakes too. Our team of teachers model how to acknowledge mistakes and show how common mistakes are. Nobody’s perfect and we are all on a journey of trying to improve ourselves for the better. A little stumble along the way is very common and completely normal. 

In the context of gifted students, we see many instances where students have built up a pre-conceived notion that because they are ‘smart’ or ‘bright’, leaving no margin for error. In many instances, we see students disengage from their learning or hover on the edge of their activity as they perceive the risk of diving deep into their learning and the associated risks that come with it to be damaging to their self-image. Many times we will hear students say indicators such as ‘that’s too easy’ or ‘i’m bored’ or avoid the task altogether with a quick trip to the nurses office. These are all markers of a child who may be building up performance anxiety and a fear of mistakes.

In order to shift the focus from task avoidance to task engagement, we need to focus on the well-being of the child. Ensuring a student builds a positive self-image and establishing a growth mindset is just as important as a student excelling in their area of giftedness. However, these two concepts are not mutually exclusive, as a growth mindset and positive attitude to learning will then lead to a child being ready to tackle learning challenges appropriate to their level of understanding. 

Seeing mistakes as a positive can be challenging for many of our gifted and high potential students, but regular conversations about what we can take away from our mistakes, praising reflection and building a growth mindset is the strong foundation we can build for our students to help them reach their full potential.

If you would like to find out more about growth mindset and the value of mistakes, The Big Life Journal is a valuable resource with lots of support for families.