## Sunday, January 22, 2023

### Mistakes

I was terrible at math, and I still am. I think I can do math at a fifth-grade level … on a good day. I mean, I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and I can do fractions. On that one good day, once every year or so, I can do percents. Ask any math teacher I sought advice from. I can see Val and Clay nod their head, and perhaps smile, but they were always willing to help.

But I’m not a dummy, at least I don’t think so. I graduated high school and college without having them burn the school down to get me out, although the high school I attended closed its doors ten years after I graduated. Financial reasons, not anything I did. At least, I don’t think so.

I have two master’s degrees- one in counseling, and one in educational administration. I even went back and got a certification in curriculum. I have written nine books and I’m working on my tenth. So, really, how dumb can I be?

In sixth grade, I sat in math class, and the teacher asked a question. I absolutely knew the answer, and I almost jumped out of my seat to answer. However, the teacher was being observed by the principal, so instead of taking a chance on me, she called on Jane, the smartest kid in the class. I mean, she even looked right at me, saw my hand waving at her, but she turned and called on Jane. That pretty much sums up my math career in a nutshell.

I think there are those reading this who can empathize with me, having suffered the same or similar experiences.

I saw a post on Facebook or Instagram yesterday that reminded me of what mistakes are all about. It is credited to Einstein, but I think it applies to just about any great teacher. A teacher, Einstein, wrote this on the board of a classroom full of students:

9 x 1 = 9

9 x 2 = 18

9 x 3 = 27

9 x 4 = 36

9 x 5 = 45

9 x 6 = 54

9 x 7 = 63

9 x 8 = 72

9 x 9 = 82

The kids in the class snickered or laughed out loud, and called him on his silly mistake. He’s a teacher, obviously he should know that 9 x 9 = 81, right? Besides, he’s Einstein, a genius, one of the smartest guys ever. How could he make such a silly, stupid mistake?

According to the story, Einstein put his chalk down, turned to the class of students and smiled, and then taught a real lesson.

He said something like, “I wrote the correct formula for eight problems and no one said anything. No congratulations. No nice work. No one applauded. But I made one mistake, and you laughed at me. You corrected me without complementing me on my other work. Why?”

Yes, why?

We do this all the time, don’t we? When we see a mistake, we pounce on it. We correct the person who made the mistake. We might think to ourselves, ‘What a dumb mistake! What was he/she thinking?’ And we don’t stop with other people. Oh, no. We are quick to self-ridicule, point out our own misgivings, or own mistakes, and we are judgmental on how stupid we must be.

Instead of complementing others or ourselves on what we did right and helping others or ourselves feel good about our success, we look at that one mistake and pile on the guilt and the shame.

As a principal, I remember going into Jason Karrick’s classroom, a young math teacher. He didn’t know I was stopping by, but what I saw was one of the best lessons any student, or I, could ever have. Like Einstein, he wrote a problem on the board (an upper-level algebraic equation, I think), then he stood back, thought for a minute and said, “I think Mr. Karrick made a mistake. Can you help him out?”

Some students stood so they could see better. Others did the problem on paper in front of them. Others discussed it among themselves. BUT NOT ONE student laughed or ridiculed Jason for the mistake he made. NOT ONE.

Did he do this on purpose? Yes, absolutely! Was this the first time he had done this? No! This was a routine warm up to begin his lesson for the day, a review of the previous day’s work.

This lesson did two things (at least): 1. It taught students math; 2. It taught students that mistakes can and should be an event in learning.

It was either Henry Ford or Thomas Edison who supposedly said, “I didn’t make 100 mistakes, I had 100 trials before the one success.”

Mistakes should be stepping stones to success. Mistakes should be learning events. Mistakes should never be an occasion to ridicule, to cause laughter, to take someone- yourself- down a notch or two. We make mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward. With help. With encouragement. With kindness. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Need a New Book? I have nine available, and I hope you gift someone, maybe yourself, with one of my books. If you have read one of my books, I would like to ask a favor. If you could go online and write a review or, at the least, give a rating on the book, it would be of great help. Both a review and a rating would be wonderful. The review could be one or two lines. It doesn’t have to be long. Just let others know you read it and hopefully, enjoyed it. Obviously, 4s and 5s are the best. Thanks for this consideration.

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A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm

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They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

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FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
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