Perfection or bust?

I've been away from the blog for too long - and I have been missing it - so I am back in the blogosphere, and hope to be blogging again regularly.  So here's some pent up thoughts ...

"As I put on my makeup" (those who know me well will know those are not words I put in a sentence often!) recently I started to think ... about perfection and imperfection.  It dawned on me how comfortable I am with my imperfections.  I was reaching for a stick of concealer to mask one of several small scars in my face, since I knew my evening might involve cameras and bright lights (that's another story!).  However staring at the scar in the mirror got me thinking about a TED talk I'd watched earlier that week by Reshma Saujani.  She'd been involved in an outstanding program which teaches young women to code.  She says:

We immediately see in our program our girls' fear of not getting it right,of not being perfect. Every Girls Who Code teacher tells me the same story. During the first week, when the girls are learning how to code,a student will call her over and she'll say,"I don't know what code to write." The teacher will look at her screen,and she'll see a blank text editor. If she didn't know any better, she'd think that her student spent the past 20 minutes just staring at the screen. But if she presses undo a few times, she'll see that her student wrote code and then deleted it. She tried, she came close, but she didn't get it exactly right.  Instead of showing the progress that she made, she'd rather show nothing at all. Perfection or bust.

I teach young people to code in my role as an educator.  These days I only make "guest" appearances in hands-on labs for first year computing classes  ... but I would be truly disappointed if the students I teach (any of them) preferred to show me a blank screen in a lab session to avoid sharing their imperfection, as opposed to showing me code they knew was not perfect.

Embrace imperfection

Getting back to me and my scars - my body has been patched up over the years with over 100 stitches externally (and more internally), plus bio-compatible "super-glue" etc. in my face.  However I choose to see those scars as signs of strength and of life - I do not fear them being seen in my face and up arms (since I tend to "roll my sleeves up" both figuratively and literally).  Now whenever I glance at my scars I'll be thinking about how to get others to embrace imperfection, in the classroom and beyond.



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