Mistakes — Opportunities for Learning

There was a story that Fred loved to tell about a carpenter asking a potential apprentice if he ever made a mistake. “No, sir!” he said, sure that would help him get the job. But the carpenter answered, “Then there’s no way I’m going to hire you — because when you make a mistake, you won’t know how to fix it!” What a great lesson — and not just for carpenters! We all learn by making mistakes. In fact, mistakes help us learn.

Fred felt so strongly about that message that on several occasions he intentionally kept a mistake on the program rather than to retape, like the time he zippered his sweater wrong and when he couldn’t keep up with folksinger Ella Jenkins’s hand motions. He wanted children to know that everybody makes mistakes — even Mister Rogers. He also wanted children to hear what mistakes mean to highly-accomplished people, like the world-renown pianist André Watts. Listen to their conversation — and enjoy some of André’s music.

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