Learning From Your Mistakes – Example Scholarship Essay
As every other thing in nature, man is designed to progress through trial-and-error. On a conscious or unconscious level, we all learn from our mistakes so that we are better equipped when a similar challenge comes along. This can also be applied to education, because, as John Hersey observes,“Learning starts with failure; the first failure is the beginning of education.”
The way in which our mind learns practical skills has recently been studied by psychologists. Observing the way in which basketball players practice their throws, these scientists have demonstrated that the mind tries to solve problems in an empirical fashion. It proposes a certain velocity, force and direction to the muscles in the player’s arms and then evaluates the results. Based on the outcome, it recalculates the trajectory of the ball and the force needed and tries again. In the end, it will learn what combination of physical acts is needed to get the ball in the hoop and the player will earn his/her first point. From this point on, it is a matter of “practice makes perfect”. The mind continually calibrates the player’s actions until it is comfortable with the outcome and, therefore, continually learns from the player’s mistakes.
In addition to the actual process of learning how to deal with a certain problem, the human mind finds incentive in failure. Once an honor student starts to be complacent and rest on his/her laurels, a failure is inevitable. As a consequence, the student will gain momentum again, ambition to continue to be the best will kick in and the student will start to work more diligently again.
An example of a historical figure who used the errors and successes of others to build his own career is Napoleon Bonaparte. He learned all he knew about war from books and after a while he was a master of belligerent art, so much so that the first time he went to the battle field as a commander he won, though facing a dangerous enemy. In this case, Napoleon relied on the failures and successes of his ancestors to perfect his own skill.
In conclusion, whether it is ourselves who err or others, we can view this positively, as an opportunity to learn from the situation. After all, evolution and progress would not be possible without failure because there would be nothing to compare our success with.