I have made mistakes and correct other people’s mistakes. So have we all. I have learnt that it is important to learn if someone has made a genuine mistake. This is because we tend to make judgements and draw conclusions based on other people’s work. “Oh, where did he learn his English from?” “That’s terrible! He should go back to pre-school.” We maybe making the wrong comment because even with proper schooling, we may not learn everything school has taught us. Genuine mistakes occur all the time.
So lets pause for a minute and ask: “What is a Genuine Mistake?”
A child makes a mistake, spelling the word ‘playfully’ as ‘playfuly’. He then checks it and realises he is wrong. He corrects his mistake.
Then on another occassion, he spells the word ‘wilful’ as ‘willfull’, without dropping a letter ‘l’ from the word ‘will’. Not until he is told that the correct spelling is ‘wilful’ does he make any correction.
Has he learnt something from this? Yes. He learnt that when adding ‘full’ to ‘will’, drop a letter ‘l’ in ‘will’.
Will he understand why he has to make this correction? No. Because the way the two words are pronounced whether it is spelt as ‘wil’ or ‘will’ are exactly the same. He will know, however, that there is a rule to spelling certain words and he has to learn about them.
If you have experienced a situation such as the above, you have not made a mistake. You simply do not know that there is a rule to spelling certain words. When you have not learnt about the grammatical rules in the language, you have made a simple genuine mistake. It takes another person to spot the mistake and bring it to your attention. In today’s computer age, the spelling checker can also go through your document to find possible spelling errors.
So if you are told you have made mistakes in your pronunciation, spelling or writing, you are not alone. There is nothing in our environment to teach us how to spell words correctly or do mathematical calculations. What we can do is to understand if those mistakes made are genuine ones. Have we ever been taught about this before? Or have we been told about this but fail to take notes? Have we tried to apply it so that the knowledge gets used and practised?