Teaching Kids That Failure Is Okay Will Make Them Fail Less

Today in research that is not that surprising but still kind of heartwarming: telling kids it's okay to make mistakes will help them do better in school.

In a study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (via ScienceDaily), researchers told some sixth graders "that learning is difficult and failure is common, but practice will help, just like learning how to ride a bicycle." Control groups got no such pep talks. Then they put both groups through a variety of kid-tasks, like a memory test and a reading comprehension assignment. The kids who got the bicycle spiel did better on the tasks — and as a bonus, they felt more confident and less like fuckups. Says study author Frederique Autin,

We focused on a widespread cultural belief that equates academic success with a high level of competence and failure with intellectual inferiority. By being obsessed with success, students are afraid to fail, so they are reluctant to take difficult steps to master new material. Acknowledging that difficulty is a crucial part of learning could stop a vicious circle in which difficulty creates feelings of incompetence that in turn disrupts learning.


So basically, if you tell kids that not everything is easy, they won't freak out and quit the second that something seems hard. Which doesn't mean teachers have to hand out gold stars every second, but some acknowledgment that, say, redox equations are fucking difficult may go a long way.

Reducing Academic Pressure May Help Children Succeed [ScienceDaily]

Image via Christopher Sista/Shutterstock.com

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