Oh, we’re familiar with the term “there are no wrong answers” but that’s just a cliche. 

In actuality there are wrong answers, and it shouldn’t be a crime to state that fact. However, it should be considered a teachable moment and a chance to enlighten someone.

As a former instructor, I noticed something in the classroom. My students were reviewing their vocabulary words and responded well when I used certain verbiage. If they raised their hand to participate, it meant that they were bold or courageous enough to have the spotlight on them.it means they actively wanted to take part. I honored their boldness but if an answer was given contrary to what was correct, I would simply say “that’s incorrect but try again” or not quite but I see where you were going with that”. It’s imperative not to demean or shame anyone while they are yet trying.

“There are no wrong answers” is a cliche. It is a statement used by instructors, speakers and teachers to encourage participation by all. An indirect push to be vulnerable amongst their peers. The ultimate goal is to create a safe space and learning environment that was conducive to accommodate mistakes. I firmly believe in correcting them. 

If someone were to write a thesis on apples when clear instructions were given to discuss oranges. It’s an indication that someone received the information poorly, failed to thoroughly process or just blatantly did what they wanted. This a great opportunity to see where their head, locate their perspective sat and offer some redirection. This warrants an explanation of the instructions and taking the time out to provide clarity. Maybe there is a proficiency in learning. My goal is to understand what they understand. Does this pupil have difficulty or is it them being stubborn? Definitely something to take note of.

What am I trying to say? It’s definitely not a debate on whether the statement should be used but rather a moment to declare that words matter. How you say things has equal importance. An Instructor, Leader or Teacher or even parent literally has the power and influence to affect a student’s life and learning experience. They either inspire, cause you to dig deeper and think more critically, reassess and evaluate or your approach can hinder and destroy the joy of learning. These are far beyond little moments in class. The way the foundations of a “wrong” is handled is critical to personal development and can be carried through life.  They can make someone feel empowered, humiliated or spark a desire to challenge authority because they feel a need to be defensive. 

These foundations of education have lasting effects. Later in life, when challenged they can easily fold or have a growth mindset. A mindset that doesn’t limit progress. It’s okay to mess up but learn from the mistake and fail forward. Others will walk around defeated and inspired. Yet, there will be the ones with delusions of grandeur, the coddled one who is kept in a state of ignorance based upon the confirmation in their wrong. The do no wrong crew. 

Balance in life is necessary for development. It teaches you resilience, acceptance, grit and determination, gratitude and less stressful life full of anxiety. They say it takes a village to raise one child and I agree. One droplet doesn’t create a wave; movement occurs when we are united in the same direction!

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