Mistakes are an art



Last night while eating dinner I spilled 16 ounces of water and a half a plate of salty chicken stir fry onto my lap, computer, and phone. After staring at the sloppy situation long enough to process it, I just granted myself barely one sigh and cleaned it up hummingly.

On Monday I had the bright idea of showing Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk in class. “The unit topic is education, and this is one of the most popular and influential speeches about the failings of the education system and education reform today. It’ll be perfect!” Wrong. He talks way too fast, and his arguments are very Western-culture-specific, and I showed it during the exhausting final hour of a five-hour-long class, so the students just stared blankly or gave up and cradled their heads in their arms. So my great idea bombed, but I kept the spring in my step after class. Today was a failure, but I learned and tomorrow will be better.

Making mistakes is a fine art. Like most people, I used to get down on myself for failing or making mistakes. It has taken me years of practice dealing with awkwardness and clumsy blunders to be able to refine my attitude toward mistakes and face them tranquilly and stoically. But I think the real turning point in my attitude was last October when I bused into Istanbul, ready to set sail to Georgia. I opened my pack to take out my Istanbul metro card, and realized…my entire wallet was gone. Somewhere between Eskisehir and Istanbul bus station, it was dropped or taken (blessedly, my passport was not in the wallet).

The wallet never turned up, but the process of recovering from the loss showed me how resourceful I really am and how supportive my network is. Because of an emergency 20 lira in my phone case that my best friend gave me months before (thank you MR), I managed to get from the otogar to the airport. Once there, my travel mates fronted me hundreds of lira so I could make it by in Georgia and even enjoy myself for the week and then get back to Turkey. Upon return, I turned to my boss to help me apply for a replacement residency permit; my uncle stood by to loan me money for expenses until I replaced my bank cards; my father brought new copies of my credit card and drivers license during a business trip to Istanbul; and I singlehandedly replaced my other cards–debit card, Muze kart, metro cards. In the end, everything meaningful was replaced. I realized that if I could make it in Istanbul and Georgia totally broke, I was resourceful enough to recover from anything.

This is the case with many mistakes, which seem like mistakes at first but aren’t necessarily so in the long run–mistakes have mysterious consequences. At the end of the week, I met up with my students for drinks. One of my students’ boyfriends showed up. Of course, we had been complaining about the education system. “I watched the RSA talk and I really agreed with it,” he told me. It turned out my student had shared the Ken Robinson talk with her boyfriend and, despite my feeling of failure about showing the video to my students, it had totally hit home with him.

The same is true about mistakes that it is about teachers–you never know where their influence will end.

Photos: Topically unrelated images of Izmir coast in December


One thought on “Mistakes are an art

  1. UM January 29, 2013 / 4:28 am

    Falling asleep during a talk is not just language issue.


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