Recently, I have been reminded of how important is it to let children stumble into their mistakes. What I mean by this is that so often parents, guardians and teachers rush to prevent the children within our care from experiencing discomfort or dis-ease.
I’m not speaking of life-endangering mistakes such as crossing thin ice or going too close to the edge of a precipice; such risks are objective and profound and worthy of immediate adult intervention. I am speaking, rather, of those subjective moments of intense thought and wonder that follow more benign transgressions – moments that surprise and confuse, spellbind and trouble - moments that cause a young person to reorganize what s/he thought was real and true, to integrate new ideas based on the uncomfortable experience.
This shift in perspective might follow a complete reverse layout of a work and time spent attempting the process, or the sorting out the complex dynamics of a close group of friends. Each of these moments offers an entire spectrum of possible reactions, each with its own set of consequences and future focused meanings.
All of us have taken a photograph with our finger in the way, or without the lens cap off. It wasn’t bad or wrong; it just happened. The “mis-takes” we experience throughout our lives shape our view of the world and our place in it. They also account for much of the joy we feel after reflecting upon and integrating such experiences. If we, as adults, sit on our hands - wait and watch - we give children the chance to discover the certainty that follows the discovery of a mistake and the plans made to make a change for the better.