But, What If I’m Wrong?

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It’s our job as parents and teachers to provide answers, right? Sometimes we think we have them ready-made, and sometimes we’re comfortable letting our kids arrive at them on their own. Either way, we hope that we’ll have some idea of what we’ll end up with, that we’ll know when the right answer has been found. For a grown up puzzling through something challenging with a little thinker, the possibility that we might be wrong is a little scary. Besides the obvious ding to our big person pride, there’s the realization that we’re going to be wrong with our kid watching. Yuck.

In situations like this, it’s often comforting to turn to a role model, a great thinker, someone famous, to see how they’ve handled being wrong. As luck would have it, in philosophy, there are a number of well-known minds who pulled a 180 in the middle of their career. What’s more, being wrong, figuring out that they were wrong, and then going in a different direction actually made them better thinkers.

If some of the most famous brains in the history of critical thought can deal with being in the weeds, well, so can the rest of us. Taking risks, being critical of ideas (even your own), and being willing to back up and try again, are all part of learning, for thinkers big and small. Don’t let the thought of getting it wrong keep you from taking on big questions with your kid!