It’s easier to make mistakes repeatedly than to learn from them. A part of my mind always presents to me the easy option during a judgement call. When the going gets tough, when circumstances are dire, you can guarantee I’m looking at a morally correct decision and the easier decision. Of course, I’ll choose what’s right the majority of the time, but I cannot deny that the temptation towards ease and convenience exists. This feeds into mistake-making.
People make mistakes despite learning from them, too. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that knowledge itself prevents mistakes from reoccurring; in some part of people’s minds, knowledge exists but is not acted upon. For whatever reason, whether it’s leisure or a general unwillingness to comply, people can know better but still act worse. It’s a puzzling conundrum faced by new teachers all over.
I saw this a lot during teaching: students would act up during class, but they clearly knew how to act appropriately. They acted fine in many other classes, so the ability was present. When I would talk with other teachers during lunch, you could almost feel my confidence wane as I tried starting up conversation about a student giving me trouble who, to some of the other teachers, wasn’t a troublemaker for them at all. Something about how “students just act up around younger teachers, even if they know better.” Even if they know better.
Irrationality is something I had to wrap my head around, as a teacher. Humans are not rational beings who always make the logically appropriate decision at every opportunity or interval. There are dozens of other factors influencing human decision-making, especially adolescent decision-making, such as social skills, environment, time of day, class history, and background. Nothing comes easily in teaching.
Mistakes are easy to make, difficult to learn from, and even more difficult to fully comprehend enough to make a meaningful difference in one’s character. I hope that by writing these blogs I am, in some way, atoning for a mistake I hope to learn much from. When staring down a mistake from years ago, with roots traced into the present day, anxiety comes from looking too closely at it for too long. I hope not to make that mistake, as well.