Sunday, 17 February 2013

Permission to screw up

When we focus too much on doing things perfectly, we don't engage in the kind of exploratory thinking and behavior that creates new knowledge and innovation - Halvorson

Recently I came across Heidi Grant Halvorson's piece about our attitude to making mistakes and how this effects out ability to be innovative: 'Why You Should Give Yourself Permission to Screw Up'. Given that we're at the start of a major project with Passionfruit Magazine (ie beginning production of Volume 2!) and that many of the students were feeling the pressure of the first deadline (for article concepts to pitch to the editor) approaching, it seemed a good idea to sit down with the crew and pull the article apart to see what we could learn from it.

In essence, Heidi's argument is that people approach any new task with one of two mindsets: the 'Be-Good' or the 'Get-Better'. The former mindset dictates that they must be good at any task they try, and consequently can be limiting in terms of approaching unfamiliar territory. The latter mindset approaches an unfamiliar situation as a chance to learn and tends to be much more resilient in the face of unexpected challenges.

Further to this, because the 'Be-Good' mindset makes us see mistakes as something to avoid it tends to result in increased levels of anxiety when approaching a problem, which reduces our working memory and gives us less ability to think creatively and analytically.

So . . . the big lesson for our students (and their teachers, who admitted that they all deal with their fair share of 'Be-Good' tendencies!) as the project gets underway is to acknowledge that what we've taken on is challenging and won't always turn out the way we hope or expect, and to agree to do our best to communicate and seek help rather than hiding from the problems that will inevitably crop up.

I guess you'll see from later blog entries this year how this has all turned out! is Behance's education arm. It's well worth checking out, if you're not already familiar with it.

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