Rarely Use The Word "Wrong" And Other Helpful Bits [Edutopia] - The Jose Vilson

Rarely Use The Word “Wrong” And Other Helpful Bits [Edutopia]

by Jose Vilson on September 20, 2012

in Mr. Vilson

An excerpt from my latest at Edutopia:

1) Rarely Use the Word “Wrong”

Students need to know that you’re not going to press a buzzer every time they make a comment or ask a question, no matter how ridiculous. Starting the year off by accepting their errors and misgivings means that you get to know them and their style of learning. Also, you get to show them the way you’ll respond to questions for the rest of the year. The word “wrong” in a classroom is similar to the phrase “You can’t do that” in improv. It’s a non-starter and often inhibits further participation. We have so many ways to say that an answer is incorrect without using the word that keep students thinking, “I might as well not.”

Read. Share. Like. Share again. Thank you for keeping me writing.

Mr. Vilson, who thinks Jose may write about writing in a few.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

kp September 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

What tosh. I work with high level kids and they need to hear “wrong”
at least once a day!


John T. Spencer September 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I like terms like, “a different approach,” or “improve” or “more efficient.” Kids can discover what they did wrong. They don’t need to be told that verbally.


Jose September 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

KP, you’re hilarious.

John, I’m coming up with a few different ways to say the word “wrong.” The first two are definitely on my list. Thank you.


David September 23, 2012 at 3:50 am

I appreciate you perspective about the word ‘wrong’ but believe we must be careful not to sanitise learning so much we neuter it.
You may be interested in my recent post about the value of mistakes…


Jose September 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm

David, I think you may have missed the point. I want students to make mistakes and own them, but I don’t want them to feel stymied by them like many teachers do. My method assures that students keep thinking without making them feel like they’re wrong so why even bother?


Sybilla Beckmann December 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thanks for this, Mr. Vilson. I would like to know more about your teaching methods. My brief posting “”Yes, and” instead of “yes, but” in math teaching” at the Mathematics Teaching Community, https://mathematicsteachingcommunity.math.uga.edu specifically, at https://mathematicsteachingcommunity.math.uga.edu/index.php/302/yes-and-instead-of-yes-but-in-math-teaching might be of interest.


Jose December 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Will check it out when I get the chance.


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