Monday, 12 May 2014

"To Err is Human" - Have we stopped making mistakes ??

What happened to the saying "To Err is Human" ....

Has the idea of losing made us so vulnerable that we have actually stopped making mistakes. The idea of being wrong in this world means that we are branded as losers as we are often compared to rights of the mighty technology. Since our younger days, the ramifications of potential failure are ingrained in us, and society only enforces these notions even more as we get older.

Technology was dumb when it started out, it is us who moulded it and gave it a character. The role of technology was to express human values and increase human understanding of the human-built world but not to change or influence the actual human behavior.

The human brain is more likely to remember cringe-worthy times than anything else. Otherwise, why else do I recall nothing about my history class on Mughal Dynasty but can recount every minute detail of the time I answered a question on Aurangajeb's Father? Believe it or not, however, this selective memory is quite beneficial; making mistakes can actually be a key to success.

In the 1930's, educational reformer John Dewey said, ‘Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.’ Maybe it is time to bring back the error in the classroom.

But its not just enough to bring back the error, it is also very important to make it look cool. It will never look cool, if a student makes mistakes in front of a teacher. In this scenario, technology as a companion can help. Imagine a robot, which cheers you up or rewards you when u give right answers and even encourages you towards the right answer when you make mistakes.

Recently we conducted a Knowledge Session at St.Jude India Child Care Center at Kharghar, St.Jude provides a safe and clean environment for children to recuperate during their Cancer treatment. These children, along with their families, travel to Mumbai from distant towns and villages, in the hope of being cured. Please visit their website at

At the session, we asked children to participate in different exercises with the robot "Abhirami".

"Abhirami" fell while performing a routine because of the slippery floor. Whenever she falls, she takes her own sweet time to wake up and stand.

During this we were really surprised by the comments we got from some of the kids. One of the girl from the group asked, whether Abhirami was tired. Then there were other comments like, since she was tired, she needs rest and that's why she is sleeping now.

We were really surprised by their show of empathy towards the robot. We dig a little bit deeper and understood the real power of human-robot interaction.

Robots don't intimidate children, they even help them to understand better. This context of not getting afraid to make mistakes actually makes it cool to make mistakes again. The robots provide instant feedback and the students don’t get upset when something goes wrong, but they instead say, ‘What happened?’ This gives them the opportunity to make hundreds of mistakes in minutes.

Let us bring robots inside the classroom, let us bring mistakes back to the classroom ....