Being wrong for creativity


Author Kathryn Schulz discusses her book “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” at a Common Reading Lecture in Beasley Coliseum, Monday, Feb. 24.

Author Kathryn Schulz asked students to show curiosity and compassion toward each other to create a more creative world.

Schultz spoke about her book “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” last night in Beasley Coliseum. The lecture was part of the WSU Common Reading Program.

Schulz said until people realize it, being wrong feels exactly like being right. She said it is only once people are made aware of their wrongness that they feel ignorant.

“It is possible to step outside that bubble of rightness,” Schulz said. “And if in fact you can do so, it is one of the greatest intellectual, creative and ethical leaps you can make…to be a good person.”

Schulz said culture is to blame for people’s unwillingness to admit mistakes, and every generation has the power to change this culture. Accordingly she encouraged students to make mistakes because without them, in her opinion, people cannot breed creativity.

By the age of 7, children learn that when people are incorrect they are viewed as lazy or ignorant, she said. Children then feel pressure to never make mistakes.

Schulz said a problem with education is that students are not asked to try anything new. Instead they are asked to learn what has worked in the past.

“It is actually our ignorance and the blank spots and the stuff we don’t know and the stuff we thought we knew that fell apart,” Schulz said. “That’s the stuff that motivates us to go learn things and to go do things.”

Once students learn the negativity culture associates with being wrong, they either drop from the project or strive to become ‘A’ students, she said. The latter group sacrifices creativity by panicking when it perceives wrongness.

Rather than take joy from pointing out when someone is wrong, people should appreciate and accept others’ individuality, Schulz said. She said the need for a person to be right leads to more than arguments. It leads to government shutdowns and outbreaks.

Bennett Friell, a student at Pullman High School, said Schulz’s lecture was mentally stimulating. He said attending lectures at a WSU while still in high school is an enlightening opportunity.

Robert Mckinnon Wilkes, a Pullman resident and a co-manager at a Pullman pub, said his pub incorporated a trivia game based on Schulz’s book. He said he would like to discuss with the author the importance of encouraging curiosity not only to college students but to young children as well.