Dotty Andragogy

The amusing musings of an adult educator in the corporate training world.

Going “Meta” with Mistakes

on October 18, 2014


Today I saw this poster and it made me reflect on some of my bigger, errr…. stepping stones, shall we call them, in my teaching career. There’ve been many… some pebbles, some rocks, a couple boulders….

One of the bigger stones, was an incident in a class of very experienced and seasoned managers (remember, I train in a corporate setting, so everyone works together). I could sense that they were questioning my credibility. Who’s this stranger coming in here telling me how to do my job? With each question they threw at me to test my knowledge of their operational departments, I could feel my patience, and confidence, slipping. Sure, I don’t know what your serving standards are in the restaurant, or what your audit checklist includes in housekeeping, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. Then someone threw a question at me about the origin of the name of one of our products. Oh for God’s sake, how should I know, I thought in my head. Out loud I blurted, “there’s no reason why we chose that name, it was just a random word”. In retrospect I have absolutely no idea why I said that. Maybe I was just tired of saying “I don’t know” to their questions and looking like an idiot. In any case, after my completely made up answer, someone else spoke up and gave a very clear explanation of why our marketing department had named our product that way. In fact it was a very clever play on words. And now I looked like an even bigger idiot, as I should.

Graciously saying, “I don’t know, let’s find out” is something I’ve learned to do. Researching information together as a class demonstrates the importance of continuous learning to our students. In addition, the process of consciously reflecting on our mistakes and learning from them is a form of metacognition: knowing about knowing. I know, sounds like some deep Inception stuff. Like a dream within a dream within a dream…

Let’s just hope that there aren’t any mini-mountains on the horizon!


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