"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Resources: TED talks on learning by making mistakes

Economist Tim Harford proposes a way to explore how to 'actually use a problem-solving technique that works" :'successful complex systems evolve through trial and error".

Harford begins with the insights of Dr. Archie Cochran, who--in the midst of WWII prison camps--found ways to improve the lives of the men under his care. Cochran "all his life, fought against a terrible affliction--he realized it was debilitating to individuals and it was corrosive to societies...he called it the God-complex".

How do we spot this kind of attitude in our own thinking? Harford says, "no matter how complicated the problem, you have an absolutely overwhelming belief that you are infallibly right in your solution...I see it around me all the time...people who, in the face of an incredibly complicated world, are nevertheless absolutely convinced that they understand the way the world works".

Perhaps this seems obvious: Harford encountered many people who told him so. His response? "I'll admit it's obvious when schools start teaching children that there are some problems that don't have a correct answer. Stop giving them lists of questions, every single one of which as an answer, and there's an authority figure in the corner behind the teacher's desk that knows all the answers--and if you can't find the answers, you must be lazy or stupid".

Relying upon the advice and analysis of so-called 'experts'? Teaching from mass, standardized, commercialized, bland textbooks? I'll stop before this becomes a rant, and end with Harford's suggestion: He calls for us to "try a bunch of stuff", to employ 'systematic way of determining what's working and what's not"....to keep trying, and to work on making mistakes which lead to solutions.

Or, in Daniel Coyle's words (The Talent Code), "Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways--operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes--makes you smarter. Or to put it a slightly different way, experiences where you're forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them...end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it".

A great pairing with this talk is Diana Laufenberg's discussion on learning from mistakes , which has been featured in this blog before.
Laufenberg's take? "We won't get there with a standardized test and we won't get there with a culture of one correct answer".

Time to go try out a bunch of stuff of my own.

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