I used to hate fucking up.
Well, who doesn’t. Failure sucks. Making mistakes sucks. I would work myself into a hideous state trying to avoid it. And then when it inevitably happened anyway, either because perfectionist self-sabotage kicked in or because sometimes your best isn’t good enough, I would hate myself.
Anyway I was thinking about this because I was teaching a lesson last week and the kids I was teaching spotted a mistake in how I’d graded their work. It was a big, embarrassing, obvious error, and I’d made it several times. They showed me where I’d gone wrong, and the bit of the textbook that they’d all read and I clearly hadn’t, and it should have been super embarrassing.
I couldn’t stop smiling.
It was so good watching them be confident enough to correct their teacher. They clearly thought it was weird I wasn’t bothered. But I was so proud of them! And if they hadn’t corrected me, I would have gone on being wrong!
‘I love making mistakes,’ I told them without thinking about it, still grinning. ‘It means I learned a thing.’
They stared a bit, but then they were like: huh. Okay. The lesson kept going. And they were a little less cautious about saying what they thought than usual. After all, making mistakes is fine.
Sure, part of me was thinking stuff from teacher training - every part of a lesson is teaching, not just the parts where you’re talking about your subject; you’re a Functional Adult role model as well as a source of specialist knowledge; if you don’t demonstrate how to handle errors and setbacks then the kids will not learn how to do it -
but like. It wasn’t an act. I genuinely was super happy I made that mistake, and made it in front of them, and learned from it. Once I wouldn’t have been. But I spent enough time faking ‘failure is not a big deal’ for Role Model purposes that it turned out to be true.
Sure, fucking up sucks. But it’s also kind of great. It means you learned a thing.