My Favourite Mistake

By Brandon Rennie

You’ve got to get it wrong.  To be an effective teacher you have to have made mistakes.  Several mistakes in fact.  Hopefully as you get older, get more experienced you will make fewer mistakes but mistakes you will, and must make.

If you’re teaching a computer-based subject so very often you are required to be the teacher, the technician, the purchaser.  This of course does wonders for your feelings of self-worth:  “I’m needed”, “I’m valuable”, and “I’m special”.  Of course when it goes wrong, as it must, you are the paw-paw holding the plug in one hand, a cable in the other and sitting in a darkened room without Eskom to blame.

Like many I started out in the days of yore (not actually that long ago) teaching typing, then compu-typing and then this thing called CAT arrived and like many I’ve been attending courses, training myself and learning to fake it till I make it.  I can look back now and be almost dazzled by my genius.  But where was my genius when I called a technician out to fix a computer which I had almost taken apart to get working but I had not switched the power on at the plug point?  Where was my genius when I, without thinking, plugged the wrong type of plug (hello America!!) into the socket and managed to blow out almost an entire wing?  Mortified I was but now I own it.

We are human.  We as teachers are often put into situations that are new to us.  We have to learn, we have to adapt and we also have to make it look effortless.  We will make mistakes and hopefully we will learn from them.  Hardware is not my strength – if it’s not working I just want to throw it away, get a new one or call someone whose “job it is” to fix it.  Sadly it’s often become our job and before we knew it we were untrained technicians.  The positive is looking back I can actually do a hell of a lot more than I could before.

Luckily my favourite mistake was my first year of teaching when I used to give learners their work back and they’d file it and I’d call for it year-end when it was time to submit this thing called a portfolio.  Come one Spring-filled September when I asked my kids for their work which they no longer had – we had to spend the October holiday recreating every piece of work and I got to mark it.  Yay!!  It’s my favourite mistake because now nothing leaves my hands.  Nothing.

What’s your favourite mistake?


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1 Comment

  1. I once called out a technician about a scanner not working, when it turned out to be the lock on the scanner, that I didn’t release.

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