Silly Mistakes are Still Mistakes

by Justin Skycak on

... and they should be treated as such.

When you’re engaged in serious skill-building, it’s not good enough to be “almost” able to execute a skill properly.

For instance, think about gymnastics. If you’re “almost” able to land a backflip, then that’s great, but at the same time, you’re not ready to try any combo moves of which a backflip is a component. Even if it’s a silly mistake keeping you from landing the backflip, you still have to rectify it.

If you don’t force students to clean up their silly mistakes on low-level skills, then students will eventually hit a wall where no matter how hard they try, they’re unable to reliably perform advanced skills due to the compounding probability of silly mistakes in the component skills.

Additionally, there are many students (typically kids) who will frequently claim that they made a silly mistake when in fact their mistake was indicative of a deeper conceptual misunderstanding. Sometimes it’s in good faith (i.e., they honestly believe they made a silly mistake), other times it’s in bad faith (i.e., they’re trying to exploit the grading system to get credit they don’t deserve), but regardless, it’s something that needs to prevented.