How Kids Willfully Make Mistakes

I was sitting at my favourite cafe in Takapuna with Renuka’s niece, Marsha.
Marsha was only three and half years old at the time, and happily drinking her um, ‘coffee’, when she looked upwards (as most kids do), and noticed a black object on the glass.

“What’s that?” she asked.
“Fungus,” I said.

“Fungus,” she repeated about three-four times.
Then promptly she forgot. And asked again.
Of course I told her it was called fungus. And she nodded happily.

When she went back home to her mother, she ran through the door and said “Mama, I saw a bungus.”
Of course confusion reigned till I stepped in to clarify that it was a fungus.
And Marsha was delighted to correct herself and say the word correctly.

Most adults don’t act like Marsha
They’re defensive. Incredibly defensive.
They’re attacking. And it gets a bit scary how they fight back at times.

They don’t want to make a mistake.
They don’t want to appear in a bad light.
They are insecure. Because if they weren’t insecure, they would have no problem making mistakes. Or letting the world know about mistakes.

Most of us want to appear perfect.
We don’t want to make mistakes.
We don’t want others to learn that we’ve made a mistake.
In effect, we’re dolts.

Even a three and half year old knows better.
In fact the reason why kids have an enormous learning capacity is because they follow a very clear pattern of:
1) Learn
2) Talk
3) Implement
4) Make mistake.
5) Go back to start.

Most kids are smart because they’re professional mistake makers. They live in a world of ‘conscious incompetence’. Most adults are dolts.

They learn less not because they don’t have the time. Or because they have no talent.
They learn less because they can’t be like Marsha.

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This reminds of of Michael Hewitt-Leeson approach to thinking:

And the search and escape concepts.

Start something, do it, notice how you do it, think about it and improve, change, or whatever is appropriate.

And that is close to the famous quality circle: plan do check act of dr. Deming. Quality isn’t someone doing something perfect, quality is a proces.

It’s the same with learning. Learning isn’t someone doing perfect learning, learning is a proces of learning, repeating, using it, and going back to learning again. And again. And again.

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