being wrong … a great place to learn

I’ve had a fortunate life when I consider all of the amazing teachers I have had the privilege to learn from. From formal school settings, to personal interest, to accidentally stumbling upon someone who taught me when I didn’t even know I needed a teacher! They have shaped the way I see my world, and how I act in it.

I was once told by someone, “if you can remember one sentence, just one, from every teacher you have ever had, or each lecture you have ever been too, you will be a very learned and wise person”. Sit on that for a moment, it’s incredibly sage advice.

When I was young I didn’t get to choose my teachers, they were given to me. Teachers who shared their love and fascination of Sasquatch, to Marine Ecology classes on Mexican beaches. Math teachers who pushed me because I loved it so much, to bookstore owners who fueled my desire to read everything. My track coach who taught me about potential, to wise Grandmas who taught me with very few words, about the world and life in general.

But recently, as in the last decade, I have been choosing my teachers, and choosing carefully. I have specific things I want to learn, and specific teachers I want to learn from. There is a certain freedom when we get to choose our teachers, more than I ever thought actually.

I made some time in my schedule and signed up for a class I had been looking at for a couple of years. Professionally and personally, I was really looking forward to the challenge. I bought three very thick and daunting books. And subsequently, reading glasses. Because there would be participants form all over the world, we set up a weekly conference call group. I studied, read, and tried applying what I was learning just to try and make sense of it all. I’m a visual learner, big time, theory only goes so far with me, I need to see it in action. During the conference calls we were all required to participate, weigh in, and answer certain questions. No lurkers. We were learning together.

Because of the subject matter, sometimes there wasn’t necessarily a right answer, but rather, several possible right answers, and enlightening, even heated, discussions. We were required to explain how we came to the answer we felt was correct.

On one occasion, my professor said, “please don’t feel the need to be right. Being wrong is OK. If you are wrong, I can teach you, and explain, and walk through it with you. We can discuss. Being right all of the time means there is very little discussion, and you won’t get a sense of the bigger picture.” I learned a lot in this class, a lot. But it is this statement that has stuck with me, and what I remember most.


This is so applicable to our dogs and other animals living with us, maybe even more so.

Within a managed environment, teaching is what it is all about. And teaching really only happens when there is something to be learned. I have never looked for perfect or ‘always right’ dogs. If a dog doesn’t understand what I am trying to convey, then it is an opportunity for me to break the steps down, make it easier, and to really teach and share the bigger picture. We come at it together. It’s a process, and hopefully good for everyone involved.

Being wrong should not equal bad, when it is in the educational context. Being wrong should not warrant a correction or punishment. Being wrong is a heads up for me to be a better teacher, and to teach. Being wrong is a great place to learn.

Be kind, be thoughtful, and be a good teacher~ Nancy

2 Comments Add yours

  1. mtwaggin says:

    HERE here! I love this…..some of us (I’ve been accused with my type A personality) feel the need to be right – especially in a schooling setting. I am learning in my old age that the journey to learning means being wrong more than right and it is oh so much more fun!

  2. nutsfortreasure says:

    Well said
    I am like that as well so much so I am often asked if I train animals for a living to which I reply NO I Love them 🙂

    I have learned so many things from ones who loved me for this I will be forever grateful

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