Did you know October is National Cookie Month? It’s one of our favorites, and we’re guessing it might be one of yours. Come to think of it, every month should be National Cookie Month Numerous surveys reveal (not surprisingly) Americans prefer chocolate chip cookies more than three-to-one to other cookies. But did you know the chocolate chip cookie is a result of making a mistake?

That’s right – A yummy mistake!

Way back in 1930 Ruth Wakefield, who was running the Toll House Inn along with her husband, was trying to bake chocolate cookies. While mixing a batch she discovered she was out of baker’s chocolate. So in a risky move, she disregarded all the recipe rules, broke a bar of sweetened chocolate into small pieces, and added them to the cookie dough. She assumed the chocolate would melt. But, to our endless delight, the little pieces did not melt, and chocolate chip cookies were born!

Serendipitous Happenings

Serendipity is synonymous with the phrase fortunate accidental discoveries, ergo chocolate chip cookies! It often springs from what initially is viewed as a mistake. From Teflon to Velcro, from Cornflakes to Post-It Notes, there are stories about how a set of seemingly random circumstances led to a chance discovery. Check out NASA’s Spinoffs – you will be amazed at the serendipitous scientific discoveries and inventions.

Insert link to Nasa Spinoffs  https://spinoff.nasa.gov

Mistakes “Mistake”

Has anyone ever said to you, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or “Learn from your mistakes?” Although we may have heard these phrases many times, do we really believe them? In “creativity land” those are words of pure encouragement. But, perhaps you too have noticed that mistakes are frowned upon and even punished in some environments. And as teachers, didn’t our job descriptions included “helping students fix mistakes?” 

Mistake Mindset

Reacting positively to mistakes is crucial to the development of open and flexible minds – the very mindsets that unleash students’ curiosity and creativity. When students make “mistakes” – let’s turn them into learning experiences by asking students to:

  1. choose an alternative solution or a next step (try).
  2. reflect on the outcome individually and with others.
  3. decide if they are satisfied with the new outcome. 
  4. cycle through the process again and again.

These habits of mind build resilience and self-confidence. The alternative, getting stuck in unhappy or unsuccessful modes of thinking, leads to feelings of failure – derails students. In “creativity land” we spell failure as . . . L E A R N I  N G!

Trial and Error

Trial and Error is how most of us learn best, especially when we are young. It’s our reactions to the Error part that makes the biggest difference. The world is full of examples where the Error (mistakes) eventually turned into success. It’s the basic thinking behind the Scientific Method! It is the doorway that leads to innovative discoveries and creative designs. It can be as simple as looking at one thing (a mistake) and seeing something different (a possible solution). Who knows where supporting and developing this type of thinking will lead? You may be planting the seeds that lead to the next big scientific discovery! 

Remember, as Steve Jobs said, “You don’t have to change the world to make a difference.” But this also reminds us of a lyric from Blake Shelton, “It’d sure be nice if you did.”

For Your Classroom

Make a poster or design a magnet for your classroom that says:

  •  “Guesses are free”
  •  “Fail Faster!” 
  • “Oops!”  

This will go far to help create a psychologically safe environment where mistakes are truly treated as learning opportunities! Be sure to download our favorite chocolate chip recipe!

Let’s Reflect and Remember . . .

  • Chocolate chip cookies were a mistake.
  • Treat mistakes as learning.
  • Mindsets change the way we live and learn.
  • Trial and Error is a good policy to follow.
  • The Scientific Method is the Creative Method.
  • Our job is to plant the seeds and help them grow . . . creatively!

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

~ Albert Einstein

Live, learn, and lead creatively.

Rick and Patti