“It’s OK to make mistakes . . . ” Dr. Merrill Harmin

It’s OK to make mistakes; that’s how we learn

When this “truth sign” was first posted in a teacher’s classroom, some people complained that the teacher was condoning, and even encouraging, bad behavior on the part of students. “Not so, ” say Dr. Merrill Harmin and his predecessor in classroom effectiveness, Grace Pilon.

When students lose fear of failure as they are encouraged to risk giving wrong answers, they become more involved in their own learning, and they not only learn more, they enjoy learning more.

Likewise, teachers enjoy the daily teaching-learning activities more.

Dr. Harmin, in his book entitled Strategies to Inspire Active Learning: Complete Handbook (1995-2002), for teachers and students, acknowledged his deep indebtedness to Grace Pilon’s pioneer work in increasing student achievement. Using active learning strategies means that not only are students getting higher marks, both teachers and students are enjoying the daily learning processes more.

Dr. Harmin repeated this acknowledgment of Grace Pilon’s leading-edge work in his expanded 2nd edition, entitled Inspiring Active Learning: A Complete Handbook for Today’s Teachers (2006).

Photo of Expanded 2nd Edition below is from Amazon.com

This is the type of practical book that teachers need to be a better teacher tomorrow, not down the road somewhere.
Dr. Harmin’s book is packed with suggestions for high involvement lessons that keep students on task–and enjoying learning–both. It has hundreds of specific strategies that help teachers and students move from “pouring subject area content into buckets [students]” towards a community of learners who not only know their teacher cares about them, they also care about each other and help each other to succeed in classroom life.

“I don’t care how much you know, until I know how much you care.”
– Student
Someone said that students don’t learn from people they don’t like.
Another way of saying this is that students will learn from people who genuinely care about them, their person, their pathways in life, their learning.
All of us who teach [facilitate learning] or parent can benefit from using the types of strategies elucidated in Dr. Harmin’s books.
To Inspired and Active Learning,
Doc Meek, Wednesday, June 16, 2010 (2nd posting, evening)
At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

6 Responses to ““It’s OK to make mistakes . . . ” Dr. Merrill Harmin”

  • Tami Huggins:

    I am been a teacher for 22 years now, a student of Grace Pilon’s Workshop Way teaching strategies and methods for 18 years and a consultant for Workshop Way for 10 years. Dr. Merrill Harmin knew Grace Pilon and always gives her credit for the influence she has had on him. He reminds me of a great scientist of the past, Issac Newton, who said that he was able to achieve so much because he stood on the backs of giants. Dr. Harmin has contributed a wealth of knowledge to the academic community through his books and I am excited to read his new book. Let us not forget about Grace Pilon. Her books, teaching materials and methods are still available through http://www.workshopway.org.
    Tami Huggins, Las Vegas, NV (yes there are children here – and schools)

  • Tami, What a delight it is to hear from you! I am so glad you know Grace Pilon’s work and still love it today. What I wish is that both Grace’s great work with children and Dr. Harmin’s work were being used in schools all over the place. I have asked myself many times, “Why is it that some of the best methodology on the planet is so little used in mainstream classrooms?” Does anyone have the answer to that? Blessings, Doc Meek

  • In 1990 [we held] a multinational conference for educators titled “A World Safe For Children Begins With Me,” which my wife Linda and I produced at the Miami Airport Hilton from Jan 18 through 20. We would like to establish professional contact with you at this time. Thanks. My phone number is 863-298-8748

  • Dr Gelinas, I would be delighted to establish professional contact with you. Anybody who is a friend to children is a friend to me! I’ll call you in the New Year [2012] when the busy holiday season is over. Should I forget please call me at THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (801) 738-3763 or in Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA (587) 400-4707. Pleased to meet you! – Doc Meek, docmeek.com

  • Dr. Meek,
    I cannot agree more with how important it is to tell children it is okay to make mistakes. For teachers who put this into practice, boardgames can be a great teaching tool. Boardgames provide a structure in which it is okay to fail, and try again. In our blog, my wife and I advocate for games-based learning and try to encourage people to game with their children. Here is a great post on the positive benefits of boardgaming with kids: http://growingupgamers.blogspot.com/2012/02/benefits-of-gaming-with-kids.html
    Thank you,

  • Dear Randy, Welcome to THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE blog! Thank you for the tips regarding the value of board games in helping kids to learn that it is OK to make mistakes, as “that is how we learn.” – Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

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