Being wrong showed a path to success. Why mistakes and failures are desirable ?


Malcolm Gladwell used the learning science concept of Desirable difficulty( by Robert Bjork) to explain the success of dyslexic entrepreneurs. He suggests that the disabilities which present unique challenges for individuals from an early age force people to learn new skills that prove extremely helpful later in life.
I like to draw a similar parallel between business failures and the Learning science theory of “Productive Failures” by Manu Kapur.
This theory very well explains why some failures could lead to a deep understanding of another level. The principle is ” Do Things To Discover Things”
According to Manu Kapur, allowing learners to struggle will actually help them learn better.
In a recent study, Kapur and Katerine Bielaczyc applied the principle of productive failure to mathematical problem-solving in a few schools in Singapore. With one group of students, the teacher provided intensive “scaffolding”(support and feedback). These students were able to find the answers to their set of problems with the teacher’s support.
Another group of students was directed to solve the same problems by collaborating with one another. They were not given any support by the instructor.
This group was not able to complete the puzzles correctly. But in the course of striving to do so, they generated a lot of ideas about the nature of the math problems and tacit understanding about what potential solutions would look like.
Later when the two groups were tested for learning, the second group outperformed the first group in significant parameters.
The struggles of the second group have what Manu calls a “Hidden Efficacy”: they lead people to understand the deep structure of problems, not simply their correct solutions.




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