Avoiding Mistakes

Improve your accuracy by changing your marking, measuring and working habits. In short: Be bold and consistent.
By Michael Dunbar
Pages 73-77

From the October 2006 issue #157
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After seeing me help a student recover from a mistake while building a chair, someone in the class will usually take me aside and say, “You know, you need to write an article on fixing mistakes.” I always explain that I prefer to teach how to avoid making mistakes.

While my staff at The Windsor Institute and I have a lot of experience fixing things that have gone wrong, I have really compelling reasons for focusing our attention, and that of our students, on avoiding mistakes in the first place. When they happen, mistakes have four very undesirable consequences for me.

First, mistakes cost expensive materials. We cannot tell the student: “Too bad you ruined that piece of wood. The class is over for you.” We have to replace it. Second, I have on my hands a student who is angry with himself. Everyone is aware of his funk and it is a drag on the class morale. Third, fixing the mistake will take time. The student will fall behind and it will be more difficult to keep the class on schedule. Fourth, I have to fix the problem, increasing my workload. If the mistake is really bad, I will have to cut a staff member loose to help me. As a result, other people who may need help do not have it as readily available.

From the October 2006 issue #157
Buy this issue now