You’ve heard the adage, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” We want our students to take risks so that they can learn. That means we want them to ask questions, even if they think they’re the only one who doesn’t know the answer.
But does the same hold true for wrong answers? Is there “no such thing” as a wrong answer? In my opinion, Yes. And no.
As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In math, for example, many intelligent people will tell me, “There is either a correct answer or an incorrect answer.” And they’re right.
But I still will disagree with them.
I administer standardized assessments to all of my students prior to their annual IEP review. The designers and publishers of these tests provide the correct and incorrect responses for each of their questions. But they also direct the proctor to say “Tell me more” after certain responses.
What does this mean?
It means that the human brain is not perfectly quantifiable. Scientists and researchers are working hard to learn more about how the brain learns, how it senses, how it responds, how it thinks.
So when I am working with students, I continually ask them more than just what the answer is, but also why they think the way they do. Because if I stopped at just the “right” or “wrong” answer, I might not discover what lead them there in the first place.
And that’s where the true learning happens.