Wrong Answers or Wrong Questions?


“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”    

 Antony Jay,       

British writer, broadcaster, director and actor


I came across this quote recently and it resonated well with me.  I believe in the power of mistakes and I encourage my students to learn through them.  As a Maths teacher, this is a particularly powerful way of students discovering where they have gone wrong in their calculation processes. It is always interesting, however, to watch students struggle with this concept.  Middle Years students are travelling through a time in life when change is the constant and self-identity is all consuming.  Mistakes can be taken very hard within this context.

But my mantra to my students has long been, ‘the only bad mistake is the one you do not learn from’.  And I am pleased to say that, seven months into this academic year, my current group of students are much more confident to talk to me about their errors, even in front of their peers.

This sort of self evaluation is very important.

But, back to the quote.  What I love about it is the challenge to not just seek the errors in our learning (and life) but to be be skilled in asking the right questions before, during and after the ‘mistake’ process.  Good questions focus on evaluation, on moving forward, on deep levels of self-understanding.  It is all about higher-order thinking.

So I think there is a challenge for me to not only encourage my students to learn from their mistakes, but gain in the ability to ask the right questions in order to develop a more creative mind.

How do you encourage your students to ask the right questions in response to their mistakes?

As usual, I’d love you to leave your musings below…


Image: http://ec.l.thumbs.canstockphoto.com/canstock8390860.jpg

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