Learning from Mistakes
Our Student Contributors
Our mistakes can be our best lessons if we learn from them.
You can easily become discouraged when you stumble but remember, “just keep swimming!” There are a few things that we can do ensure that we are really learning from our mistakes.
When you make a mistake, try not to simply put it behind you and continue along your merry way. I know it isn’t healthy to dwell on the past or perform a post mortem on every exam and essay. It could be helpful, however, if done in a constructive manner. It is too easy to decide that maybe the curve was just not in our favour. Sometimes, things go wrong because maybe procrastination got the better of us or maybe we weren’t as organized as we could be. Sometimes our mistakes are bad habits or things might have just gotten a bit overwhelming.
For example, we are all somewhat familiar with the time management struggle. It is absolutely essential to properly manage our time but often we overestimate our capacity and find ourselves counting our lives in seconds and minutes, scrambling to meet deadlines. Yet, we often continue believing that while we may have ninety-nine problems, time management isn’t one. It really would be most helpful to admit that we’ve made a mistake. Most mistakes are very easily corrected if we admit to ourselves that we might have erred. The danger in moving forward without this acknowledgement is that we might repeat our previous mistakes.
Of course we are almost always quite sure we’ve followed all the requirements and instructions but sometimes we miss things. A good place to start would be with someone who can point out exactly where we’ve fallen short, or gone overboard. For example, maybe you’ve studied all your lecture notes and readings but your mark on that exam is still not what you want it to be. I’d suggest talking to a TA or an instructor. Ask where you could have done better and what you could do differently. If you are able to pinpoint your mistakes you can make a targeted effort at correcting them. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t know what they are.
The most important step is actually applying the lesson learned from our mistakes. We know we made a mistake, we’ve figured out exactly where we went wrong, and now it’s time to correct it for better results. Who doesn’t love more efficient essay writing and study methods? University is a learning experience and it teaches us that we do not have all the answers but there is so much we can learn. The greatest difficulty may be to get beyond the initial disappointment of our mistakes. It is important not to get stuck there but to move forward and turn those mistakes into an opportunity for improvement.