- Sarah Janisse Brown
Should we Focus on a Student's Mistakes or Encourage Creativity in Learning?
Do you have a student who doesn't want to write? Does your student fear math? Does your student dread school time? Maybe they are afraid that they will be in trouble over their childish mistakes! If they freely write the stories that are in their hearts, their joy will be squashed when you point out the errors! Children fear and dread writing and sharing because adults always point out the problems and focus on the mistakes! We think we are helping, but we are not. We are causing stress and humiliation. so look for talent not perfection, they will build skills over time. the more the read and write for the joy of it, the better they will become! Who wants to raise a perfectionist who is afraid to be creative? In traditional school kids often lose the joy of writing for fear of making mistakes. The worst thing that happens in school are "mistakes", and children need to be free to learn to write creatively, practice writing, and let the story flow - without worrying about the mistakes. Encourage your child to use a journal and to write stories - and then don't criticize their work... if they trust you enough to share their stories with you. Don't pressure them to let you look at their stories. No child can write like an adult, but we often expect perfect spelling and grammar. To expect a ten year old to write perfectly is like expecting every child who takes piano lessons to be able play Mozart flawlessly in two years. Let your child learn freely and naturally and don't take away the joy of reading, writing and even calculating by focusing is on the child's mistakes.
People grow up fearing mistakes because of critical parents and teachers who are just doing their job. People who fear mistakes are afraid to take chances, be creative and innovative. Give your child freedom to be creative, make mistakes and learn freely. They will perfect their skills and grammar over time. Homeschooling Parent TIP - If your child shares a story with mistakes, enjoy and praise the story. You can take note of the mistakes - when the child is not aware. In about a week, you can teach the child how to spell those words or improve the grammar in a fun way- but keep it unrelated to the story that they wrote. Teacher Tip - When I was in 5th grade my teacher, Mrs Abney, gave us 20 minutes every morning to write freely in our creative writing journals. Sometimes she would give us a writing prompt. Once a month she would meet with each child after lunch and the student was encouraged to pick one story from creative writing time to share with the teacher. She didn't point out the mistakes, she talked with each student about the story, our feelings and our ideas. She encouraged creativity - I looked forward to sharing my stories with her, and would always try to polish the stories that I planned to share with her. I would share my best stories, and I began to love writing in her classroom. After a year in Mrs. Abney's class I always kept a journal. She was a brilliant teacher, she even read the Chronicles of Narnia to the class every day after lunch while we rested, with the lights turned dim. I also loved how she would write logic puzzles on the chalk board every morning.I never had another teacher like her that encouraged creativity, imagination and logic... until I began homeschooling at age 13.
Yes, adults believe they are helping children by pointing out all their learning mistakes - but what really is going on is that the children are humiliated and they soon begin to pull away from adults - not wanting to share what they write and create with adults. Eventually they stop creating and stop being open with the caring people who constantly critique them - for their own good. One hard part of being a homeschooling parent is that we as parents try to take on the "teacher" role, and teachers are expected to always make sure children see their mistakes and are graded on a bases of what they are able to memorize and apply. Parents who become teachers can compromise their relationship with their children by expecting perfection in the child's work. The child will begin to feel like they can never do anything right, and unless they get 100% their work has no value and then they feel like they have no value. Many children grow up feeling like they will never be "good enough" How many adults do you know, who grew up in this system of education, who constantly feel like they will never be perfect enough? Children, if encouraged, will self correct - if they are exposed to good quality reading materials, just like they self corrected the speaking mistakes that they make when they were three year old. Some people believe that unless someone is taught a fact they will not learn it, and unless they take a test they have not learned. This method of education, that focuses on mistakes, does not serve to encourage people to become emotionally healthy, happy, secure, productive and creative. Think about it: The entire system measures the child by the mistakes them make - rather than effort, creativity, talent, character, skills, attitude and innovation. The student's grades are determined by his or her failure to memorize information, and the child's entire future is founded on this same method of evaluating his test scores, never looking at his heart, her talents, or their unique abilities. There are many types of intelligence, but the only form of intelligence valued by the traditional education system is the ability to memorize and recite information when tested. Many of the talented people who design just about everything you see, failed the tests, because their minds were wired for creativity, innovation, music or design... but not the memorization of facts. Many of the most innovative people failed in school. Why the focus on memorizing facts in school? The goal is to make teaching simple for one teacher who must manage 25 children in one room, where everyone sits in desks most of the time. Creativity is messy, innovation can't be measured, music never has an answer key, art is too diverse to be graded. Before the 1800's there were no public schools. Schools were designed to meet the needs of an industrial workforce, when the industrial revolution took place. We no longer need to prepare most students to be factory workers, so the focus of public education has changed, but not for the better! Now childhood education is designed to prepare the child only for higher education and college entry. 12 years of childhood education does not prepare the student for life and work... just for more school. what is the measure of success in education? Not what you do with your life, but what college you get into. Something must change. And yet, many students complete college only to go back home to play video games, because the diploma didn't provide them with a job they were willing to do. As homeschooling parents the change can happen today, but for a public system that is designed to educate millions... chances are we will never see that change in our lifetime - but one teacher can make a difference in her class - just like Mrs. Abney. Resources: For an approach to education that focuses on creativity, journaling, drawing, and researching one's interests visit www.FunSchoolingBooks.com - Fun-Schooling Activity Books - Without Answer Keys! Encourage creativity and innovation while helping your student to master the art of reading, writing and spelling naturally.