BEN: “I’m promoting a culture of skepticism. That’s what I’m doing. Hey, just take a look at what you believe and what you think about stuff, and stab it in the throat. And if it lives, we’re good.”
AARON: “Stabbing it in the throat… you had me until then.”
BEN: “I’m kind of an all-or-nothing guy.”
AARON: “Yeah! ‘Go big or go home. No fear.’ I think you can always be wrong. Always. You never ever know. Like I act like I know all the time, but if you have a good solid point, I will listen to you and I might change my mind because of it. I think more people need to do that. More people need to realize that, even though you may be totally committed to this idea or ideology, and you might have so much invested in it, you can always be wrong. You don’t know 100% anything…”
“And I’m a big believer that the most important thing that a kid can learn in school is how to learn and how to think. If Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, are asking questions, know how to poke holes in an argument, know how to make an argument themselves, know how to evaluate a complicated bunch of data, then I figure that they’re going to be okay regardless of the career path that they’re in. And I think that that requires more than just rote learning — although it certainly requires good habits and discipline in school — it also requires that in the classroom they’re getting the kind of creative teaching that’s so important.”
“How experts learn, they really learn by looking at their mistakes. And this can be an unpleasant way to live, because who wants to get home after a long day’s work and think about all the stuff you messed up that day. And yet that tends to be a very effective way to learn. As Beckett said: ‘Fail. Fail better. Fail. Fail better.’ It’s that process of realizing that we all make mistakes. We all fail.
“I talk about it in terms of a variety of domains. I talk about it in terms of a backgammon player. After every match, even matches he wins, he goes back and looks at all the moves he did badly.
“I talk about a soap opera director who, after a day of shooting–a 16-hour day–he goes home and puts in the raw tape from that day and forces himself to make a list of thirty things he did wrong. Thirty mistakes so minor that no one else would notice them.
“Tom Brady: when Tom Brady watches game tape for hours every week, he’s not looking for the passes he did well. He’s looking for the passes he missed, for the open men he didn’t find.
“We need to think about how we think about learning and see mistakes as the inevitable component of learning. You can’t learn at a very fundamental level unless you get stuff wrong. And so not to fear our mistakes. Not to loathe them. Not to be so scared of making them. But to realize that we have to, in a sense, celebrate them. That they are an inevitable component of learning and you can’t learn without them.”