Please let them Fail and Make Mistakes

In October I went to The Sanskaar Valley School in Bhopal to mentor and judge a (sort of) business plan competition with Aditya. A wonderful school in middle of a reserved forest. Everything about that place was just perfect! Except that the Domino’s wouldn’t deliver pizza there. Man, were we pizza deprived!

The kids there were nothing less than genius. Day 1 - we present them our thoughts an ideas on what entrepreneurship is and how to go about it. Day 2 - they blew our minds away with what they came up with! I felt old, really.

The best thing was seeing them make mistakes. Good mistakes.

Same mistakes that we made when we were younger. First urge was to tell them not to make those mistakes. After all that’s how adults behave around us - learn from our experience, don’t make same mistakes as we did, they say. But does that really work? Is it even healthy to intend that?

When I read back old notes on this website. I don’t agree with many of them! One day I was about to pull them down or re-write them. But then I remembered how strongly I felt about each one of them at the time of writing. Somewhere a kid is making same mistakes as I did and those are the things s/he will relate to more. And anyway, if no one is reading it I am proud to look at how far I’ve come.

Wisdom comes from experience and telling them not to repeat your mistakes it to deprive them of experience and hence the wisdom. Never do that. Please. You telling them that it something won’t work is knowledge, not experience.

You can’t teach a kid to walk. You can’t tell him - hey don’t do that, that won’t work. The kid has to go through it himself and figure it out!

I know, for sure, that those smart kids will figure it out, as long as they are making mistakes in the right direction. I wouldn’t want to steal their chance of revelation and learning. Isn’t that the true education?!

It’s funny how making mistakes is considered a sin in education system. Failure is punished for. No doubt people are afraid to make mistakes and take chances! Really? Education without making mistakes?

We are not just stopping them getting real education but losing a brilliant chance to be wrong. Oh! Isn’t that why we do it? Don’t let the kids go there - what if they prove us wrong? Then everything we thought we thought we knew would be wrong. Oh the fear! I bet the pope felt the same way when Galileo challenged their idea of earth being the center of universe.

After all these years, still the same. Will we ever learn? Naah! Just send the kids to school and educate the curiosity out of them. And if they fall while trying to walk, deduct a marks or two.

You are reading a post that I wrote a long time back—at least 12 years ago. Take it with a bag of salt.

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