College Pete

How Bad Is a Mistake?

How Bad Is a Mistake?

I just finished reading a fantastic book.  It’s a children’s book, titled The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, and it’s about…well…you get the idea.

Beatrice is the ‘perfect’ girl with a simply stellar life until she almost makes a mistake.  She doesn’t actually make a mistake, but just the thought, the fear, of missing the mark causes much consternation in young Beatrice.  Her mood changes, and she becomes more pensive, worried about even the possibility of a flaw in her game.

In the end, Beatrice makes a big mistake (OK, I told you the end, but you should still read it. This may be The Giving Tree of our day.).  This is a children’s book with a happy ending, so Beatrice is able to laugh it off, and everyone laughs with her, as opposed to at her.

The book is written by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein.  Rubinstein is a high school math teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York who, along with Pett, came up with idea for the book when their students were so darned afraid of raising their hands out of fear that they might actually get the answer wrong (Oh, how terrible.).  The book’s message is that it’s OK to take a risk and to be wrong, whether it’s in school or elsewhere.  In these fearful times, many are so terrified of stepping outside the box and taking a chance, even though that’s exactly what we need to get our economy moving.  And it’s what we need to teach our kids if we want them to be successful.

Some mistakes are worth making, and even worth talking about.  In fact, some colleges even ask applicants to write about a mistake that they have made, to own up to them. (What a great assignment, this from the same cutthroat environment that bases it’s admissions decisions on proximity to perfection.).  Thomas Edison spoke repeatedly about the value of his mistakes, and how each failure simply offered him one closer step to success. For example, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  Edison ended up doing quite well for himself despite, or perhaps because of, his many mistakes.

I think everyone should read The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.  Certainly, if you have young children or know someone who does, this should be your next gift.  With the Holiday season right around the corner, this is an easy gift that will keep on giving.  The book sends a message that we can all learn from.

(Other mistakes are not worth making.  Like mistakes on your financial aid forms.  These can cost a family thousands of dollars, making the difference between a generous financial aid award or no money at all.  When families apply for financial aid, the colleges will not point out mistakes that the family may have made. Did you include your Florida Prepaid Plan or 529 Plan as a student asset?  More than likely, that’s wrong, but the college will NOT point that out, and it could cost you thousands in lost grants or scholarships. Did you include retirement assets, or even your home equity as an asset on the FAFSA?  Wrong again, and the school will not point that out for you, either. With financial aid, you need to get it right the first time.)

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