Subscribe to the Blog

It's a Mistake to not Use Mistakes in Learning

Dr. Richard Curwin:

I recently heard a TED talk from Brian Goldman, a doctor who admits to having made mistakes. In very emotional language, he describes some costly emergency room mistakes, and then makes a strong case for changing the way that the medical profession addresses such things. He believes that medicine will improve if doctors are free to discuss their mistakes, without judgment, allowing them to learn from each other. But, he continued, because doctors are judged by mistakes, they are too afraid to discuss them. Instead, they are often covered up, blamed on others, or ignored.

Dr. Curwin categorizes the mistakes that he's made into four categories:

  1. Mistakes he has hidden.
  2. Mistakes he has blamed on someone else.
  3. Mistakes he has learned from.
  4. Mistakes he has learned from and shared that knowledge with others.

I think we can probably all fit most of our mistakes and to these four categories. When we think about the mistakes we've made that we've learned and shared with others that becomes a very powerful learning opportunity.

As a side note Dr. Goldman's TED talk is about learning from mistakes, where Atul Gawande's popular talk a couple years ago was about how to prevent mistakes in medicine. Interesting how these two approaches are not only applicable to medicine, but also work well in the Education sector.