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The Rhyme and Reason of making mistakes

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

“It has been a long trip,” said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; “but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn’t made so many mistakes. I’m afraid it’s all my fault.”

“You must never feel bad about making mistakes,” explained Reason quietly, “as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”

Princess Reason in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; illustration by Jules Feiffer

I’ve recently been working with a student who frequently beats herself up for making mistakes. Today I paraphrased this quote to her and explained that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn something from them. She listened, but I wasn’t sure if it had sunk in.

Later in the session, *I* made a mistake, and I jokingly berated myself about it. She matter-of-factly responded: “it’s okay to make a mistake as long as you learn from it,” and smiled at me.

That’s when you know they get it. When they tell you what you told them.

Related Posts:
Failure is not the enemy
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How to make it safe for kids to fail

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