Making a Mistake

Today’s news chum brings together a collection of articles on a common theme: thinking about mistakes…

  • Mistake #1: Poor Management. The death of Hostess Brands has been in the news a lot of late. Many people upset about unions blame it on the unions. Others blame in the growth of healthy eating. But Michael Hiltzik hits the nail on the head when he states the real cause: years and years of poor management. As he states early on: “It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.”
  • Mistake #2: Signing a Pledge. One of the biggest obstacles to compromise in Congress is the “no tax” pledge of Grover Norquist that many congresscritters have signed. It’s one thing to be disposed against raising taxes, but to say never creates artificial restraints. Lucking, some Republicans are realizing this and repudiating the pledge. This is not to say that they want to raise taxes (just like no one wants abortions to happen), but they want the flexibility to do what is needed to bring down the national debt.
  • Mistake #3: Dropping Out. Although a select few can succeed after dropping out of college, many millions more don’t, plus they are saddled with college debt. The article notes that a bachelor’s degree remains by far the clearest path to the American middle class. Even with mounting concerns about the rising cost of higher education and questions about the relevance of many college degrees, recent graduates have lower rates of unemployment, higher earnings and better career prospects than their less educated peers. Among Americans aged 25 to 34—the youngest group that would have completed college under a traditional schedule—the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders was 4.1%, versus 11% for those with only a high-school diploma and 9.8% for those who began college but didn’t finish. Employed college graduates earned 37% more than dropouts in 2010.
    (alas, the article, which I could once read, is now behind a paywall. If that hits you, search on Google, and then you can read it)
  • Mistake #4: Preventing Failure. An interesting article from US News and World Reports posits that we would get much better scientists and engineers if we took the time to prepare them to fail. As the author of the article states: Right now, we do not explicitly teach our students how to fail so that they can get right back up. That’s in direct conflict with our goal: to prepare students to play competitively upon graduation. If our students are going to stop deadly pandemics, solve the energy crisis, and cure world hunger and poverty, they will have to be prepared to fail, over and over—and more important, they will need to know how to learn from those failures. STEM innovator Albert Einstein recognized that falling is an inevitable part of innovation; he’s quoted as having said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
  • Mistake #5: Penmanship. More and more states are dropping the requirement to learn cursive, and students have worse and worse penmanship. California, luckily, has retained the requirement.
  • Mistakes #6-#28: Here are more things you are doing wrong. 22 of them, in fact. (h/t Andrew D.)

Music: Soundtrack from “The Sterile Cuckoo” – “Come Saturday Morning”

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