Why at Agora International School Barcelona we approach mistakes as opportunities to learn how to reflect on them

Learning does not mean not making mistakes or errors. Learning means knowing how to approach those mistakes as opportunities to reflect and evolve.

At Agora International School Barcelona we want to form people with a desire to excel, social commitment and a critical spirit, capable of achieving academic and personal success. This means being able to reflect, to develop critical thinking and that also means making mistakes and learning from them, a lesson that is undoubtedly necessary for life.

“If you don’t want your child to be skillful or resourceful, the best thing you can do is to overprotect him. If, on the other hand, you want him to grow up as an adult who is sure of himself and his abilities, give him room to make mistakes”, says neuropsychologist, lecturer and writer Álvaro Bilbao, and in our school we think it is essential to promote an educational model that helps students to ask questions and seek answers, where they are the protagonists of their own learning, always guided and accompanied by the team of teachers who are responsible for motivating and guiding the development of the educational process so that students find the answers by themselves, building their own knowledge that will help them to develop in the real world.

It is very common that, as parents, we try to anticipate our children’s mistakes to try to prevent them from making mistakes, but this, far from helping them, is harmful: “We learn to walk by falling over and over again, so we should ask ourselves why we insist on eliminating mistakes from our lives. In doing so, we are unintentionally sending messages such as ‘you are not capable of doing it’, which contributes to low self-esteem and greater dependence on parents. On the contrary, mistakes allow us to learn and redirect situations”, argues Amalia Gordóvil Merino, collaborating professor at the UOC’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, PhD in Psychology and family psychologist at the GRAT center. Mistakes allow us to learn, evolve and are part of our development as human beings. Therefore, in our center we guide our students through mistakes and show them that making mistakes is an opportunity to learn, to improve and that it provides them with tools to face different situations.

Making mistakes is perfect training for tolerating and managing frustration. When children are educated to have autonomy, are allowed to make decisions and make mistakes, they develop a greater tolerance to frustration and prepare them to face life, future work and adulthood in which, undoubtedly, having trained tools to manage frustration will be of great help

Taking the time to think about the mistakes made and to analyze them helps to develop analytical and critical thinking and encourages reflection. At Agora International School Barcelona we aim for our students to “learn to learn” and for each of them to acquire full intellectual autonomy. To achieve this, we work on certain skills from an early age to encourage this critical thinking, introducing this vocation from the Infant Education stage. In this way, students learn to investigate, analyze, evaluate and create, developing their own ideas.

Learning opportunities offered by making mistakes

  • Capacity for reflection: as we said, making mistakes and seeing them as an opportunity to learn helps students to reflect, analyze and draw conclusions.
  • Greater autonomy: preventing children from making mistakes limits their development possibilities.
  • Flexibility in the face of unforeseen events: if students learn from an early age that making mistakes is natural and that they can learn from them, they will be more flexible adults with a greater capacity to adapt to unforeseen events and different situations.
  • Positive view of effort: if we teach that mistakes in themselves are not something negative, but an opportunity to evolve, students will have a more positive view of effort and greater motivation to try to improve.

Classes focused on developing critical thinking.

Students learn more when their work motivates them and has a suitable level of challenge, therefore, our students have at their disposal motivating, interactive and experiential methods: the basis of our learning to learn concept.

In an interview with diario ABC, the child psychiatrist of the Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology Service of the Hospital Universitario HM Puerta del Sur, Lilia Marinas, argued that preventing children from making mistakes impedes their learning and sends a harmful message: “In terms of learning, the child may show less self-initiative and little development of creativity, demotivation for studies. Some parents are tempted to do their children’s homework so that they get good grades. The message they convey is that the only important thing is the result, not the effort”

At our school, we encourage students to actively participate in classes, analyze their surroundings, dialogue with respect and tolerance with their peers, work in an experimental, multidisciplinary and collaborative way and value the culture of effort.  The teacher is in charge of motivating and guiding them throughout the process.

“The only man who makes no mistakes is the one who never does anything” said the German poet and dramaturge Goethe. At Agora International School Barcelona we want students to achieve their full academic and personal development, we seek to bring out the best in each student and to be reflective, analytical, make mistakes and learn from them is part of the process to achieve this.


13 / 04 / 21