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The Art of Mistake-Making



When I was about ten I got my first 'B' and I remember being so distraught and ashamed that I was scared to tell my parents. (Perhaps you're rolling your eyesif you were not raised in the "straight A's" camp, but stick with me because this is going somewhere important that we can all relate to.)

Even after confessing my less than perfect grade (and my mom almost laughing at it not being a big deal at all) I remember spending the whole night sobbing in my room. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was a failure. It was my first formal memory of failing-- of not being or doing enough-- and the beginning of a lifetime battle with perfectionism.


It wasn't until college that I learned about the power of 'mindset'. I was in my early twenties when I began to discover that I could choose to shift my perspective on what happened to me: a true miracle in the aftermath of rape, addiction, and depression that unfolded for me in college.


The only taste I (unknowingly) received in childhood about the importance of developing character and cultivating a growth mindset came from my artistic studies (and from a somewhat painful pursuit of academic excellence instilled in me from my dad). While I wouldn't change my childhood because it made me who I am, my journey does inform a deep drive to infuse the lives of children with access to tools for transformation through art because...

Imagine if I had been introduced to this idea in elementary school. Imagine if I had gotten to practice it consciously with guidance through my love for art. It would have given me a huge head start in the work of expanding my mindset and growing my confidence; these things are instrumental to the success of any human regardless of the trauma they experience or whether they grow up to be an "artist".


One of the core pillars of every program and class we lead is about embracing mistakes as opportunities to learn. We regularly discuss the growth and fixed mindset continuum inside of our Elements of heART program to the point that by the end of the year, our heARTists are usually well-versed in identifying each end of the spectrum.


Even our virtual field trips and our heART Club classes are based on the idea that creative exploration is synonymous with developing our mindset and strong character... because "great artists don't just make great art... they learn to lead from the heART." They also lean into the discomfort of mistakes with curiosity and compassion, which is a lifelong skill for every human.


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