Life Style

Education, lessons from a mistake



The error is human. In other words, universal. And yet, the right to make mistakes does not apply uniformly across the globe. In this area, France undoubtedly has a lot to learn from other countries. One of the most common examples is the United States, where bankers have a reputation for lending money more readily to entrepreneurs who have already failed once, on the assumption that they will not make the same mistakes a second time.

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Our school, too, would benefit from being inspired by some of its neighbors. Because the Pisa study, which compares the academic performance of 15-year-olds in OECD countries, highlights a very French form of inhibition: many of our students thus prefer to refrain from answering or answering. ” engage in certain tasks rather than run the risk of making a mistake.

A “fault” heavy with guilt

By itself, the vocabulary used in our classes to designate unsuccessful attempts says a lot about our complex, not to say self-conscious, relationship to error. Many times, we prefer to this word that of fault, morally connoted and heavy with guilt. Now what is wrong with giving a wrong answer, leading to a wrong result? Would it not be beneficial to see above all in error an imperfect essay?

Unless he indulges in laziness or ill will, the author of an error does not deserve condemnation but rather a “Try again! “, an encouragement, an invitation to start over, to do better, to use the formula popularized by video games. But this benevolence rhymes with requirement: it is not only a question of taking another chance but of analyzing what prevented us from answering the question correctly or from finding the solution to a problem.

Error, the very condition of learning

Neurosciences, which have the wind in their sails in the field of education, confirm this. Making mistakes – and above all understanding their mistakes – constitutes for the specialist Stanislas Dehaene, president of the scientific council of national education, one of the four pillars of learning alongside commitment, attention and consolidation of knowledge and skills. Better, he says: error is the very condition of learning.

What to encourage the teachers to take care of the correction, to be as precise as possible in the annotations, to systematically take the time for an exchange during the restitution of the controls. Also remember all that error can have that is creative. How many outstanding works were born from a failed stroke or a stain, far from the artist’s original intentions? How many scientific discoveries have their origin in a false manipulation or an involuntary departure from protocol?

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To rehabilitate error is to operate a small school revolution. It is to rethink grading, by making more room for what educators call “formative” assessment, an assessment that does not necessarily count in the average but allows the student to identify his strengths, his inadequacies, his margins of progress. Otherwise, notes are too often the source of stress which, in high doses, neurosciences still tell us, has harmful effects on attention, concentration and memorization. An error from which we still have a lot to learn. Notes at school, do we have to change everything?

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