There are places where mistakes are not allowed; the surgeon should not operate on the wrong organ; a pilot should not make mistakes while landing…
But a surgeon who learns to operate on a model or in an autopsy room can make a mistake, just as a pilot flying a simulator may make a mistake …
When our mistakes leave no great consequences and especially when learning, it’s completely normal and expected to make mistakes.
Parents, especially those in China, but similar in other parts of the world, do not allow their children to make mistakes; which, paradoxically, is a mistake.
They expect children to score 100% on tests and to be the best in the street, class, school, region… and achieving something like that leaves no room for error; which is ironic in a country whose system dictates that we are all equal.
Teens won’t even try to answer the question because it diminishes their chances of making mistakes.
In one of the class activities I play a short animated film, stop it in a random scene, and ask what they think will happen next?
It is very difficult for me to explain to them that there is no right or wrong answer to that question; the process of thinking in a foreign language is the goal of the task and if you fail to give any answer, you fail the task.
Even adults hesitate to try anything if they are not 100% sure that they will not make a mistake; not only in China, of course; this is universal. Whether we’re thinking about changing a job, a place of residence, starting a business, or something banal like modifying a meal recipe or installing a new app on the phone, we’d rather stick to something old and known so avoid making mistakes.
Lastly, to create something new, we must be prepared to make mistakes. New means that no one has done something like that before and therefore no one knows what the potential mistakes are.
Thanks to people who were willing to make mistakes, today we have the ability to fly, communicate faster and easier than ever, and we have been able to land on the moon.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, the world needs brave people.