"Learning is about not making the same mistake twice; it's about making new and better mistakes"
I've spent the past 15 years teaching a new class each semester (I've taught dozens of different biology classes) and taking on a variety of new projects. So I'm used to making lots of mistakes. I have learned to be patient with myself and focus on the lifelong learning that comes with new challenges.
As a result of my experiences, I have learned to build classes that focus on information literacy (how to find accurate answers to questions) rather than memorization of facts. This is an especially important skill in science classes because our understanding of health and environmental factors is always expanding. This is especially challenging in science classes because students expect science to have "The Answer".
One of the main misunderstandings people have about science is that science is about finding facts. While that's important; asking good questions is more important. So, when we discover that chocolate helps with certain health aspects but then learn it also causes problems with other health aspects; that is the process of learning new things. The problem is that these nuanced findings are often summarized as "chocolate will save your life" and then "chocolate is killing you". People are rightfully confused by these black-and-white oversimplifications. This can lead to the misconception that we don't actually know anything at all. A better way to present scientific information is as a nucleus of "knowns" surrounded by an electron cloud of "questions". The knowns are not newsworthy - but the hints at answers to our questions are.
Let me explain with a Gif from Giphy. com. This was really fun to build and took way more time than it should have :)
Similarly, one of the main challenges with training scientists is to teach them to become comfortable with mistakes. If we don't teach this to our undergrads, they will have a very quick and painful lesson in their first true research experience. We can do this by designing labs and activities that are open-ended with no single "right" answer. [Although, there are incorrect answers!]
"If you understand what you are doing, you aren't learning anything."
I put this quote in my class materials as a way to remind students that it's OK to be confused and to make mistakes. In fact, I encourage it!
Also, I'd like to recommend two GREAT books about how science works. These are both by Stuart Firestein.These are both short books that are quick reads.
"Failure: Why Science is so Successful" explains why mistakes are essential for good science. If I were to teach Biology Majors classes again, I would include this in the curriculum. This book is a great way to prepare students for labs that require critical thinking and problem solving.
"Ignorance: How it Drives Science" explains that science is all about the questions at the edges of our knowledge rather than the knowledge we already have (that's old hat). I use this book with my General Education classes as a way to set the tone for the semester. This is a great way to start a GE biology class because it eases some of the fears about the class and shakes students out of their expectations of a class that is going to be all about memorizing facts.
With scientific knowledge expanding at light-speed, the most important skill we can teach our students is how to ask good questions and find reliable answers from quality sources. And, in a changing world, the most important value we can instill in the future generation is fearlessness in learning new things.