Making Mistakes

I think in some cases in life and in education it is very important to be precise and in other cases perfection is an ideal that can be approached but never achieved. In practicing choral music in choirs in my free time we always go through iterations until the piece starts to pull together. In the case of my church choir we normally encounter the music one hour before the service, go through the harmonic lines and the map, and put it together in time for the service. This can be nerve wracking but serves the purpose. In the same way some educational projects are actually enhanced by a spirit of experimentation. A project in which there is one goal but different implementations can result in examples that may be successful for different reasons. If a second round is gone through after a group discussion all the better. This is light years from teaching to a multiple choice test. The expose on Tedtalks by Diana Laufenberg also follows this line of reasoning. See her at

Somewhere in the public school system, in trying to be accountable to taxpayers we have become obsessed with a method of accountability, namely multiple choice tests, that do not measure many valuable attributes. In order to gather this inadequate information much time is given to “teaching to the test”.

In the private school setting at Open Fields School we do not teach to the test and there is plenty of time for projects and “making mistakes”. I tend to think of it as a chance to polish diamonds that are in the rough. In my choir if I had to take a multiple choice test before singing, and stop singing after making a mistake, no music would happen. The assessment of the music is by the audience. I hope that the audience of the Open Fields School community appreciates the “music” that we make.

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