Sunday Snippet: Learn From Your Mistakes At WeHaKee!
Increasingly in our current culture, mistakes are deeply feared and are to be avoided at all costs. Errors are viewed as a blemish on our personal brand. And when our kids make mistakes, more and more parents swoop in to clean up any evidence of the error all in the name of maintaining their child’s success status. ‘A mistake could lead to low self-esteem, a lower grade, it might even effect my child’s college admission status!’
It is a fact of life – we all make mistakes! What is becoming lost in the avoidance of mistakes is the incredible learning power that our errors provide us. The key is in how we respond to our mistakes. If we choose to simply berate ourselves (or our children) over each mistake, we miss the opportunity to examine the error to determine how to reduce the probability of it occuring again.
Back in the bandroom, when a mistake occurred I worked to teach my students to first identify the error (50% of the solution to a problem is knowing that a problem even exists!), examine what led to the error (lack of focus, lack of technique, lack of understanding, sloppiness…), and explore what might be done differently to reduce the chance of the mistake happening again (explaining a technique to avoid the error, practicing the technique until improvement occurs, refocusing and trying again…).
At WeHaKee Camp for Girls, mistakes are embraced as opportunities to learn. Our WeHaKee culture embraces the idea that our campers should try lots of new things at camp – things that they may not have access to away from camp. But trying new things exposes campers to the potential for failure, even repeated failures! But the camp environment is intentionally designed to support each camper as they struggle (i.e. fail) to acquire a level of success. Encouragement, support, empathy are shared by campers and staff alike which leads to a more comfortable environment for girls to go beyond themselves in trying something new and challenging!
A recent Mind/Shift article caught our attention as it explores the nature of mistakes and emphasizes that not all mistakes are alike – Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn, Eduardo Briceño, MindShift, Nov. 23, 2015. Briceño suggests that mistakes can be broken down into four catagories:
- STRETCH MISTAKES: These would be the most common types of mistakes that occur at Camp WeHaKee. With so many activities to choose from, campers are frequently ‘stretching’ themselves beyond their current abilities which leads to errors, mistakes & failures. But by examining the causes of the initial errors campers often see new ways to approach the task leading to greater levels of success!
- AHA-MOMENT MISTAKES: When a camper is seeking success in a new activity and achieves it seemingly by chance, they often are able to explore what just occured experiencing that ‘aha-moment’ when they realize what they did to reach success!
- SLOPPY MISTAKES: When campers have mastered a skill or task, but they either rush through the process or forget a step or two and the end result is a mistake. Although these types of mistakes are avoidable, they can still provide a learning opportunity when as Briceño notes “… sloppy mistakes can be turned into aha moments. If we make a mistake because we’re not focused on the task at hand, or we’re too tired, or something distracted us, upon reflection we can gain aha-moments on how to improve, such as realizing we’re better at certain tasks after a good night’s sleep, or that if we silence our gadgets or close our doors we can focus better.”
- HIGH-STAKES MISTAKES: In the camp setting, this form of mistake might take the form of trying something new for the first time or going beyond one’s perceived abilities with the end result being a poor performance or result. This is also the basis for healthy risk-taking at camp. Where at WeHaKee we are diligent in helping campers avoid dangerous risk-taking, we are intentional in guiding campers in healthy risky behaviors, such as meeting new people, sharing about yourself and other behaviors that may have high-stakes social risk – but often result in surprising positive experiences for the camper leading to enhanced confidence!
“Mistakes are not all created equal, and they are not always desirable. In addition, learning from mistakes is not all automatic. In order to learn from them the most we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them.” Eduardo Briceño, Mindset Works.
For our campers as well as ourselves, mistakes are simply a part of human development. Mistakes help all of us explore our boundaries and push our limits beyond our preconceived perceptions. Mistakes should be embraced as a blessing that is given to us to leanrn and grow. Let’s keeping making them and learning from them each and every day!
Thanks for joining us and have a wonderful week!