"100% is overrated"

In “100 Percent Is Overrated,” James Hamblin writes,

“ ‘Mistakes grow your brain,’ as the professor of mathematics education at Stanford University Jo Boaler put it. […] [A]t least a small part of the forebrain called the thalamus can appreciably grow after periods of the sort of cognitive stimulation involved in mistake-making. What matters for improving performance is that a person is challenged, which requires a mindset that is receptive to being challenged—if not actively seeking out challenge and failure. And that may be the most important thing a teacher can impart.”

Mistakes, by themselves, don’t make the brain grow.

Rather, teachers should design learning experiences in which students are free to:

  • make mistakes

  • reflect on those mistakes

  • apply new insights to improve

When students can see a mistake as a fee vs. a fine, then 100% is overrated.


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Christian Talbot