I feel my rear end rail into the railing as I poorly attempted to execute a parkour trick properly. I look up and see my friends giggling as I struggle to get up. Rather than turn red with embarrassment, however, I start to chuckle along with them; in the meantime rubbing off the ache in my bottom.
It felt really nice, too. To not worry about making a mistake and looking like a boob. Usually, I would freeze and up look around in anxiety to see if anyone saw my boo-boo. There would be an awkward moment of eye contact before stiffly shuffling away.
And because of that, I had third thoughts about going out to practice parkour. The fear of having everyone know how ungraceful I can be pulls me away from ever improving. I’m partially at fault here, letting something so small affect me in a huge way. But, it’s also how I was raised which caused me to think this way. A lot of people believe that the best way to learn is to make things harder than what you’re usually, to prepare you “for the worst”, to make sure that you can handle tons of stress whenever necessary.
All of that sounds like it would work, on paper that is. And it does, to some extent. Actual training and skill-increasing would need that sort of practice. But, in terms of a learning curve, it would be best if people are more relaxed and more acceptable to the mistakes they make. Because in reality, all that really matters is that you understand the concept you’re learning, not memorizing. Think about it like this: you could memorize all the equations you want and have them in your hand at the ready. Because of that, you’re able to whip out an equation for the situation at hand. BUT. There is a point in time where no matter what equation you use, you’re not able to solve the current problem.
I’ve gone through that route before. One time, I was doing a quiz in my algebra 2 trig. days and all I’ve done for studying was “memorizing” the equations and which ones worked for which problems. It worked, for a short period of time until it came to the algebraic part. I just couldn’t understand how to do the problems for the fact that I focused on only memorizing, not understanding. And when the quizzes came back, I felt like the dumbest person on Earth.
Now, take a look at the learning curve of video games. It usually would take people less than a day to figure out the mechanics of the game. You can argue that there “isn’t really much to memorize, so of course it’s easier to learn.” Ah, but you forget, my good man. The main focus of the tutorial phase of a game isn’t to help the player memorize the mechanics, it is more to understand how it works. Now, when a player makes a mistake, of course they won’t feel happy about it. But, they won’t feel discouraged about it and give up all together. Rather, the mistakes are what motivate them to become better and eventually beat the game.
Of course, the real world isn’t a game where you can make as many mistakes as you want. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t create situations similar to a tutorial stage. Think of athletes and their daily practices. They aren’t just to make you feel exhausted at every point of the day. You go through those practices to make sure that you learn from the mistakes you make during that practice. It would go from something like kicking a ball to kicking it a certain way to achieve an advantage for your team.
So, what does that mean for everyone else? Not everyone is a gamer, and not a lot of people want to go through the same training athletes go through. That then leaves us with academics. Growing up, my peers and I have grown up being punished for not performing well on a test or quiz; or even the class in general. It then gives us a fear of failing, of making mistakes, of looking like a fool.
That’s what I realized as I fell on my bum on the Global School Play Day. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, to look like a fool. ‘Cause the real fool is the one who does not learn from his mistakes.
Picture Source: http://jonasdero.deviantart.com/art/Summer-Time-215933689