Students are sometimes scared to participate in class due to the fear of being wrong. (Illustration by Kim Ly)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: Normalize being wrong

No one alive knows everything. Even the smartest person out there can still make mistakes, but there seems to be a low level of tolerance for being wrong in high school.

High school students shouldn’t be afraid of being wrong; after all, we learn about several new topics with little to no prior knowledge every day. It’s a lot to know.

The fear of being wrong is evident in participation. Very few students participate and answer questions in class because speaking up in class is a struggle for many students. Many, including myself, also do not participate because we fear answering the question wrong and humiliating ourselves in front of more than 30 of our peers.

Mistakes happen. They’re normal. Over time with the help of several of my teachers, I realized that being wrong wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. Everyone makes mistakes and as a student, and I am more than allowed to be wrong about something I don’t know. Students are in school to learn. School is supposed to provide us with an environment where we can make mistakes and learn from them.

Students should focus on their growth and what they’ve learned rather than the small bumps in the road of what they’ve gotten wrong.

Some of my teachers encourage students to speak out if they make mistakes to show that everyone makes mistakes. If someone who has learned the topic and teaches it for a living gets a small part wrong, students can do the same thing.

Test corrections, along with a teacher being there to explain what a student did wrong, are another opportunity for students to learn and correct mistakes. I think teachers taking the time to walk through problems with students is one of the most effective ways of teaching because despite learning the material students still make mistakes and learning what they did wrong, having the opportunity to fix it helps students understand the material better.

Answering and asking questions in class also helps students understand and grasp the concept better. It’s great when there are opportunities to discuss the material as a class. Rather than reading from a textbook or searching online and never talking about the content, talking to the teacher and our peers allows for a better understanding.

Everyone makes mistakes. Part of learning is making mistakes and students shouldn’t be afraid of being wrong. They should be confident of their skills and what they’ve learned regardless of whether they’re right or not.