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?
*Please don’t answer that. Please.*
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?”
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 …
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To My Readers:
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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Fan Mail: New Release! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!
A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.
As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.
Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?
Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die. https://amzn.to/34lNllP
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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
Spiral Into Darkness:
Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
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
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
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They found the bodies of high school
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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
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
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. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
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Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ
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The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives
Photo Courtesy of Chris Liverani and Unsplash.