The importance of making mistakes

Here in Oxford, we like to draw encouragement from local boy, Winston Churchill: “Success is not final”, he said, “failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We all face our own challenges, in maths, and in life.

At Edplus, we believe that children learn best through doing. Even, or especially, through doing things wrong. The important thing is to try and to not give up when we stumble. It may sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

Our learning algorithm works best when it gets a true picture of your child’s knowledge state. Each time your child gets a question wrong, it helps Edplus to select a more appropriate question the next time; one that is close enough to your child’s specific knowledge to be familiar and easy, and far enough away that they are challenged, just a little.

As parents, it’s tempting to try to help our children with their homework by giving them the answer. Understandably, we want to spare them hurt, we want them to win, and sometimes, (let’s be honest!) we do it to get them to hurry up. But we learn best through experience. Not just life lessons, but all lessons.

“It may sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s good to be wrong.”

Allow your children to fail in a controlled environment. It builds resilience, as they learn that the sky doesn’t fall if they make a mistake. And failing makes the experience more vivid. Studies have shown that we remember experiences better when they have stronger emotional associations: positive AND negative.

When your child gets an Edplus question wrong they may feel upset, but they immediately find out the correct answer. So next time they are likely to get it right. And when they do, the positive endorphin-rush is heightened by the very fact that it was difficult. They feel good, especially, because they did it themselves.

Permit your children the satisfaction of achieving mastery by themselves. The – slightly – hard way. They will learn better and it will build their confidence and self-esteem. It will encourage them – it will help them find the courage – to keep going.

As Winston Churchill said, that is “what counts”.