“There are no mistakes in drawing,” and his advice at the end of this clip about dealing with mistakes is precious.
Our attitude towards making and dealing with mistakes could reflect how averse one is to risk. In recognition of the need for creativity, inventiveness and entrepreneurship in the immediate present and future, these traits have been a prominent part of the many iterations of 21st Century skill sets that needs to be taught to our children. These traits are in turn linked to the level of comfort with risk-taking, resilience and thus the attitude (and ability?) towards making and dealing with mistakes.
In fact, if learning involves not just the forming of new connections but also the re-forming of what we know till then, then being wrong is very much a part and parcel of learning. As we immerse ourselves in learning something, we may start with amassing information but we would also need to then makes guesses based on our prior knowledge and the newly acquired information and then check to see if there are mistakes we make and adjust accordingly.
When I am reading something, I would often mistake my comprehension as having then learned what I read. However, when I attempt to share or apply what I have read, I then realised that I might not have complete recall or that I was wrong. It is such occasions that definitely leaves an impact.
Typically in assessments, we are looking for learners getting it right. As a good teacher, we know too that the mistakes made could yield even greater insights into how we might help them learn better. In fact, when designing a good assessment, we would even be mindful of structuring the task to tease out potential mistakes that would indicate gaps in learning.
Then there are assessments of subject matter that appears more subjective than objective – such as drawing. If a child makes a mistake and is able to fix it and make something new out of it, would that be valued?
Looking out for and tracking mistakes does certainly seem to be an important aspect of assessments of learning, especially formative ones. With the use of digital technology, there is the “undo” function that makes the making of mistakes more forgiving and at the same time also less easy to track. However, technology does make the tracking of mistakes more possible and personalised only if tracking is done with greater intention and thus deliberately built into the learning workflow.
How ready are we to draw out mistakes in learning?