The Eraser

Truth is often a hard thing to grasp. It is often complex and multifaceted, cutting across different perspectives and dimensions of understanding. It is also coloured by our upbringing and our experience.

I saw the above story on a friend’s FB. On the surface, it seemed like another one of those wonderful parables of the importance of having the right attitude and perspective of things. How an eraser is only able to serve its purpose when someone is willing to use it for ita intended purpose. What use does that eraser serve if its owner leaves it idling in the pencil case? Erasers are made for those who are willing to correct their mistakes! Not everybody is willing… some refuse to do so… and the implication is that the refusal to erase is always a bad choice… it is the wrong attitude.

All fine and dandy, it seems! Except that, is there always only ONE right attitude? Only ONE useful perspective?

For me, I see things a little different. When I read the poster, the first thing that triggered in my mind was my recent experience with a number of my private Mathematics students. Whenever I point out a possible error in their work, they are so quick to reach for the eraser or the correction tape. They are so afraid of and uncomfortable about their mistakes that they seek to immediately wipe the slate clean and to pretend that the errors never existed. They do not take the time to stop, to scrutinise, to ruminate, to deliberate, and then to discern how and why the error happened… in short, they fail to learn… they lost the opportunity to “level up” in their understanding of the concept.

I don’t believe in erasers. Mistakes should be addressed, and not erased. A mistake erased often leads to a mistake repeated. Failure is a necessary precursor to success… 95% of the time anyway! Let’s not get so caught up in wiping out our imperfections, that we lose sight of the importance of celebrating and embracing our every mistake! We should take pride in them as our battle scars.

Our battle scars remind us of how we fought and conquered!

(Attitude does matter!)

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