How A Willingness To Be Wrong Will Help You To Grow

On the first day of class, everyone strategically chooses a seat, whether she's the know-it-all who wants a front-row view to actively participate or the kid who is shy, doesn’t give two sh*ts and hides in the back. Regardless of where we pick our seats and what kinds of students we are, we all sit in between the same four walls in a chamber meant to increase our knowledge.

Many fear getting called upon or volunteering to answer a question because the prospect of getting the answer wrong is horrifying. This hindered many of us from actively participating in courses all the way to college and thus, turned many of us into classroom introverts. It leaves us afraid to ask questions for the fear of not trusting our own knowledge enough to lead us in the right direction.

As I’m sure most of us can agree, no one wants to come across as stupid. However, is the kid who raises his hand to ask “why” after every question really the dumb one, or is it the kid who just sits in the back quietly, even when he or she doesn’t understand the one who's of questionable intellect?

There’s always that kid in class who becomes the professor’s pet because he or she likes to spark discussion. Oftentimes, we grow annoyed when this person opens his or her mouth because half of the time, this person is wrong. But, is this really such a bad thing?

A large purpose of college is to ask questions and get them wrong — it helps us to learn and eventually, go out into the work force to get them right. No professor expects you to know everything — that’s why you’re in the class.

Students who are active learners have a better shot at understanding material on their own and being able to use it outside of the classroom. A passive learner generally takes information at face value and does not include any type of involvement or interaction to help retain the information.

In fact, according to an article entitled, “Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research” by Michael Prince of Bucknell University, test scores were about twice as high in classes that promoted student engagement. This gives evidence to the notion that this type of learning is more beneficial than the more traditional lecture learning.

These days, we pay thousands of dollars each year for higher education in hopes of eventually getting hired and becoming attractive to employers. If we weren’t spending the time to ask questions in the classroom, wouldn’t that $50,000 annual tuition be going to waste?

The next time you roll your eyes and call the kid who’s chatting up the professor a loser, just remember that he could be your future boss someday.

Photo credit: Paul Shanghai