Ask Adam Savage: When to Intervene and When to Let Mistakes Happen

Publisert 28. mai. 2021
Tested member John England asks, "I often find it hard to balance when to knowingly allow someone to learn from their mistakes rather than provide a possible answer. Aside from 'will they shoot their eye out,' have you discovered any tricks to weighing the benefit of when and when not to step in?" Here's Adam's answer! Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks, like asking Adam a question:

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  • If more people took Adam's approach to raising children, this rock we inhabit would be a much better place.

  • Kids may be learning a lesson different from the lesson you are teaching. For instance, they might be learning about a tool and not much about the thing being built.

  • This put a genuine smile on my face. Multiple times. Adam you are an amazing person. I don't even have kids and this just made my heart happy.

  • I love the trebuchet story. ❤️

  • "That's how David killed Goliath... Allegedly" Are we about to see Adam start a new career as a Goliath Truther? "A rock from a sling can't kill a giant, Goliath was an inside job"?

  • If it can be fixed or replaced on your budget, let the mistake happen.

  • Beautiful

  • I did a project on medieval weapons back in the 90s. My dad and I welded up and built a catapult that fired golfballs. It was really awesome

  • When referencing something in the Bible, rather than following it up with "allegedly" try "according to the Bible." You're far less likely to upset someone that way. People who believe in it won't mind, and people who don't believe in it will understand. At least, the rational people on both sides should be okay with it.

  • I love that man. A lot. Thank You, Adam.

  • My dad loved seeing me build things when I was a kid so when I would ask on a Friday night "can we go to home Depot?" He would always respond with "sure. What are we building?"

  • "we never built a trebuchet; it just never came up!" only Adam...

  • If the mistake can be physically or mentally costly more than acceptable for the risk/reward, I say that's a good point of intervention. Other than that, which I think is a slight oopsie not to mention, this was entirely lovely.

  • Fun fact: David didn't kill Goliath with the rock.

  • good video

  • "The illusion of consistency..." Fuck that's perfect. Not sure I'm pulling it off.

  • Allowing subordinates to learn from mistakes (the ones which don’t have bad consequences) is essential to allow people to learn. Take the time to learn from others’ mistakes, you’re not going to have time to make all of them yourself.

  • As a driving instructor i can say that reflection is very important. Instead of correcting, ask questions so they explain what they are about to do. Let them "learn by themselves" instead of giving the answer

  • Actually did this exact thing in HS, keep straightening the hook until it is a pin.

  • Balance the ideas of: A) "will they learn from this oopsie" against B) "will this failure frustrate them and make them want to quit forever"

  • Teaching kids to be successful is important but also teaching to them to fail and learn from their failures is very important. Not everyone can or should win a trophy!!

  • I would pay good money to have someone deepfake Adam's hair on trump's face. Because face it, this is what he would look like if he wasn't doing combover + hairspray before going in public.

  • Injuries need to be avoided. But otherwise, mistakes are the most educational part of learning. It's possible to follow directions carefully, build something perfectly, and learn nothing. Mistakes, and fixing them, makes you think about what you are doing, and how things work, which you will likely remember for the rest of your life.

  • As someone who has built a 4 foot trebuchet out of Lego... 1) Its funny that you used ball bearings as the counterweight, because mine did too. 2) you don't necessarily want a straight pin on the sling release. We had an adjustable pin which we played around with quite a bit and I think we ended up with a 15 or 20 degree angle that gave us the maximal release distance. However, I can completely see where the "best" angle is going to depend on how your sling is setup. 3) Adam's story about how far it went it totally believable. Our projectile was a mouse ball (1" dia solid heavy rubber ball for those of you not old enough to know what that is). We underestimated how far it would go. We threw it at a wall 100 ft away and left a 1/4" dent in the wall. Later we used a longer hallway in the office and I think our impact site was around 250 feet away. Good times.

  • "I still have hundreds floating around in the shop.". Might I suggest a helmet.

  • As I teach new techs mechanics I teach them only fundamentals and allow their brains to works best for them. I am not the same as the next person so I can't tell them what is wrong. They have to figure that out. I will teach them my way if they ask and that definitely isn't always the way from a book. The answer is did they get to the solution safely. When they can get seriously hurt is when I intervene.

  • I always felt that our children enter this world with an empty suitcase. It’s my job to help them fill that suitcase with the tools they will need to hopefully live a happy, successful life. 🤞🏼

  • I think "is this going to result in bodily harm?" and/or "will this result in financial ruin?" are probably the only boundaries you need to set on when to prevent a mistake, otherwise, lesson after mistake if needed

  • The biggest skill I've learned as a Scout leader is to ASK QUESTIONS. Don't give an answer, ask how the person decided this is the right thing to do. They may be thinking about it in a completely valid (maybe even better) way than you. "Why do you think that should be a hook on the trebuchet sling? When do you think that will let it release? What happens if it releases early/late?" And don't just ask the question if you think they're wrong. I had a chemistry teacher in high school who shook everybody up by responding to an answer to a question "are you sure?" It shook everyone up, but made us ask ourselves that first.

  • Adam, when are you writing a parenting book???? I would totally buy it!

  • Not to forget, a mistake might not be a mistake but a feature.

  • Something I try to do is: explain the basic steps while showing them, explain safety hazards (except if it's minor), let them try, and give some feedback if they want it This works really well teaching on my sailboat. For example using the trapeze: I'll be showing them like "hook up your harness, keep this line with you so you can pull yourself back in, always keep your front foot on the deck and regulate how far you lean out with your back foot (if you do it the other way around, you may swing forward into the water), remember to unhook yourself if we capsize or anything". Then I'll show going out and coming back in a few times and let them try. While they're trying, I'm repeating the exact key phrases to make a strong connection between what they saw me do, what they heard me say, and what they felt doing it. They'll be able to do it the correct way in 15 minutes. If there isn't really a right way of doing it I won't go into details in the explaining part, for example when teaching how to steer (minimizing the angle to the wind): "Pushing on the joystick turns into the wind, pulling turns away from the wind. You see the front of the sail flapping if your angle is too low, and the pieces of string in the sail all fall down if your angle is far too high, steer into the wind or let go of the sail if you feel we're almost capsizing (I'll let you know if that happens)". Then I let them try, and they'll take all day to really get a feel for how to steer (actually perfecting takes a few years though). Once in a while, the boat does something strange and they look at me without saying anything, and that's my cue for giving advice on what they should do (which often is "you're doing well, it's just the wind died down a bit and you want to keep this heading"). This also isn't a complete framework, but this is my go-to method if I know how to do it and the thing I'm still learning is to not give too much advice while they're trying it for themselves. Hope this helps

  • to me i never actually tell them what's wrong with what someone's project i just hinted them and let them figure it out myself, unless ofc they ask straight

  • At 1:45 to 2:02 about sharing information. Kenneth Howard {a.k.a. "Von Dutch". The hotrod pinstripe legend} once said "One of the few things of real value in this world is knowledge. You can give it away and still have it!"

  • What happened to the Raptor build videos? I was loving watching the progress.

  • As a counter note to your final thoughts, saw a cartoon by children's book creator Maurice Sendak with 2 adults talking about kids, and the final thought there was essentially "children hide what they know about the world from adults because if the adults knew, it would scare the hell out of them."

  • A test is not a failure if it yields usable information.

  • I LOVE these videos, great food for thought, i think...

  • ya, the release is the tricky part of a trebuchet... as I recall I went through a similar problem solving process with it when I built one with my dad.

  • I hold off on stepping in unless injury/death is likely or the mistake will make success impossible and success is required.

  • I am hoping that your son received a good grade on that project!

  • Starts out answering a question about correcting errors. Ends with emotionally opening up and sharing his experience on parenting with us. We are Adams therapist.

  • I read an article in a magazine that you wrote that had the instructions to make the trebuchet and I made that with my 2 sons. We had a ball. We were launching pieces of brick and clods of dry mud into the empty land behind our house. It was great! I wanted to make a big one but my wife said no :(

  • Allegedly!

  • I don't know why you needed to throw out the "allegedly" comment. If you did not mean this derisively, it comes off that way. If you did, there is no reason to make this a platform for disparaging religion. If you choose not to believe, fine, but have the courtesy to respect the beliefs of others.

    • Any time a nefarious, violent, or criminal deed is mentioned Adam throws out an "allegedly" as a joke. A mention of Brutus stabbing Caesar got one too,it's just his schtick. This is definitely the wrong channel for you if you're going to put every word under a microscope hoping to be offended. Partly because you're always going to find something to be offended about if you look hard enough, and partly because this is the *one* relatively drama-free space in the maker community and it's not going to go over well when you try to start shit for absolutely zero reason. I'm a Christian, and even if he _were_ specifically insulting the Bible, this is his channel and his expressed views on it are none of your business or mine. If you're that offended by phrasing it's time to click away, not leave a whiny comment.

  • This videos with Adam answering questions are just becoming my therapy at this point. I love it.

  • %99 agree with Adam on parenting. Only, acknowledging the terms of existence around your kids doesn't exclude a consistent upbringing.

  • The best way to learn is from your mistakes. However, if a situation is life threatening or if too much is at starke, someone should intervene. At home, you want to make the experience pleasent and fun. At work, you need to bring a project forward. Keep that in mind.

  • My opinion: Let them make mistakes as long as there is no safety issue. If they like creating stuff, they will think about what went wrong themself. That's were creativity comes in. One of the most underrated attributes in terms of modern education. Based on the knowledge they have, they will try to find out their own ways. If they find a solution that works and they're enjoying their time, noone should care if they did it the way a professional would do it. For you as parent, try to answer their questions and help them out if you find them frustrated and no longer enjoying what they are doing. If they made faults and after some time they still couldn't come up with a solution for it themself, don't just tell them what they did wrong. Try to lead them in a way, so they "come up with the solution themselves". Seek the least amount of telling them what they are doing "wrong" whilst keeping them motivated.

  • I wish that someone had told us millennials while growing up that adults don't have all the answers.

  • 2:13 *watching someone preparing or in the process of drilling a hole into something that is situated in their own lap might be a good time to politely intervene or at the very least be reaching for the first aid kit while dialing 911*

    • one guy in my metalsmithing class in college apparently lifted his hand off a metal plate while drilling through it and it broke the bit and struck him in the sternum and stuck out of him like a throwing knife. luckily we had a hospital a mile up the road or less so he just walked there and got fixed. drills can be super scary when mistakes get made.

  • "It's best to get negative reinforcement from the world and positive reinforcement from the ones you love" Brilliant. I made a meme an posted that quote. Thanks, Adam!

  • Sometimes the funniest part of someone telling a story is knowing where it's going. Such as "we bent a nail..." XD And to be honest, THAT'S the kind of mistake you let someone make. ;)

  • That’s a fabulous answer! My father cautioned against too much correction or doing things over for children exploring tasks. He said it disheartens them and makes them think their contributions aren’t valuable.

  • I was hoping he would go off a tangent, where they had a tingling feeling already that the "solution" to their problem would fail, but that they did it as they knew it would make for good TV... ...all he has given here is the same what the poser of the question essentially had said "unless they 'gonna poke their own eye out' to let them fail, to then turn around and say: 'if you are interested, here is how I would do that'" I'm not sure if I could give a better answer for finding the borderline between "safety risk" and "adventure", but my own way of dealing with what I would deem an unsafe way of doing something, by a snarky side-remark of "let me get the first aid kit first" and then trot off...

  • Pretty sure I've said this before but im extremely envious of the "things" for growing up with Adam as a Dad.

  • People call me a downer when I say that everything we are and do is virtually meaningless, but I feel it's a liberating sentiment. Nothing I do matters... but then again, nothing I do matters! It's quite nice to know that all my mistakes and all my pain will be washed away by the eons. We're here for a blink, like the bubbles violently emerging and bursting on the bottom of a pot of boiling water... so we might as well enjoy the hell out of it.

  • As somebody who is intrested n physics and cosmology, the "nobody knows the answer" part really hit home. I am applying to a university right now to get started on a physics degree. I've been a mechanic in a wood work shop for 20 years.

  • A life lesson I embrace is "dont let the fact you've never done something, stop you from doing it for the first time"

  • *wince* Feedback. Not reinforcement. I know it's moderately pedantic of me to do so, but it's important to point it out, because this little misunderstanding is _everywhere._ Positive and negative reinforcement isn't a reward vs punishment idea. It's all reward with those two, the difference is in what behaviors you're rewarding. Positive reinforcement is when you reward behaviors you want to see continued, while negative reinforcement is rewarding behaviors you _don't_ want to see continued. Positive feedback vs negative feedback is the reward vs punishment dynamic. Other'n that...loved the perspective you offered. It's kinda rare nowadays, for some reason, but it's a really useful one.

  • You learn by doing. So do as much as you can, and you will learn. 🖖

  • Studies show with reading that children learn at 93% success, 7% failure. Enough ease to feel confident and yet challenged. Something to consider.

  • I know this problem. I supervise work placement students who are studying Entertainment (Lighting/Sound/Vision) and if I can I'll let them do it wrong and teach them how their thought process was flawed or what they did wrong with the hope they learn how to think things through before they start doing something.

  • Lot of wisdom in this one, I struggle with it. Even when people DO ask for advice, they have usually already resolved to do as they please, and are just hoping you will confirm it.

  • This was wonderful! More parents need to understand this message.

  • lol you did the same "if that is your real name?" for my question back in 2018 asking you about your experiences working with Peter Jackson lol. Mythbusters Jr. comes to mind with that question. the things you and those amazing young people did was awesome.

  • Just wanted Adam and the crew to know i watched Mythbusters for as long as i can remember as a little kid and into my adulthood now im in the Coast Guard learning about aircraft electronics and i credit much of my interest in these things to this man so just wanted to say thanks Adam and crew!🤙🏼

  • I work in a factory. I train people to run a cutting machine. I tend to let people fail when keeping multiple carts on a single roll separate. When they have to correct that mistake, they never make it again. Or at least ask questions for a change. There's easier ways to undo if you're early in the mistake. And even I make that mistake. But for mistakes that costs IRL $$$ beyond time, I intervene. It's not about feelings, it's about meeting production goals.

  • As an engineering teacher I love the “ah-ha” moments! I tell my kids, yes all of my students are my kids, that failure is an option in the deign and prototype process. Things go wrong, I head off the dangerous parts, but when things don’t work it is so fun to find the why with them and redo.

  • Who is your favorite Frankenstein; Victor Frankenstein, Baron Von Wolf Frankenstein, or Frederick Frankenstein?

  • Adam is always so insightful. I definitely struggle with letting my kids make mistakes. I've learned that saying "you're about to mess up, and here's why" just doesn't work. And yet it still comes out of me sometimes, unless I'm constantly on guard and thinking about not doing it.

    • Not only does that not work, it eventually teaches your child to either attempt to learn new things only unsupervised (not safe) or quit trying to learn new things at all.

  • He is one of my favorite people like jamie. But i can only watch him on the myth buster discs i have

  • On that note if people dont know in the bible after David hit goliath with a rock he than got his sword and chop his head off.

  • I'M WILLING TO FIGUIRE SOMETHING OUT. In most of your videos you say something that makes me whack my head back and go AHHHHHHHHHH.

  • Unfortunately parents are all amateurs, we want to give our kids a better childhood than we had, and in trying we're going to f%$k up! Like our parents did!

  • Love you Adam

  • Wow, your very smart Adam but you don't see the health sector preparing you. Look how light they have convinced you to be. wow. Why on earth would you need to be that skinny Adam. On what planet would you want to be that skinny on Adam.

  • There was documentary from a few years agoWhere a man re-created the building of mini ancient weapons. One of the weapons that he tested was slingshots to test whether or not David could have killed a large man with a slingshot. He proved it was possible you should really check that out Adam.

  • Thanks Adam!

  • "Are they making a mistake that they can reasonably recover from?" Your kid has been saving up his lawn mowing money from all summer and sunk it into making a thing that they really want, and you see that they are making a mistake that is about to irreparably destroy all their hard work: time to stop them. Another example: Adam has told the story a couple of times about how he messed up the scale on a miniature he was making for one of the Star Wars prequel films, and what he produced was unusable, and had to be replaced by CGI. I bet he really would have appreciated someone pointing out what he was doing wrong while his model was still at the drawing board stage of production.

  • I work in a sheet metal fabrication factory. I tell all the people I train, you really don't know how to do something until you've screwed it up and had to fix it. If I constantly show them how to do something, and correct everything they never learn to work on their own. If I let them struggle with it a bit, then give them a pointer or two to help it tends to sink in better. I also try to mix in plenty of positive reinforcement. Especially when they start feeling like they aren't getting the hang of things. I point out all the things they have mastered without realizing it by reminding them how badly they struggled with it when they first started. I did the same with my kids. Let them explore on their own as long as there was no danger to themselves. Waited until they asked for help, or suggestions before I would put my 2 cents in. They knew they could come to me any time. Just like they knew I would help, but I wasn't going to do it for them, unless it was beyond their abilities completely.

  • Hi Adam. Long time fan here. (Pain relief suggestion) I noticed that you are wearing a band. I also wore one for a couple years with terrible pain from tennis elbow.I work in construction and could hardly hold a drill or a hammer. I finally went to a surgeon to see my options for repairing it. He advised me to try Shock Wave Therapy before surgery. It totally worked. I went for 6 treatments and the pain was completely gone. I had this done about 4 years ago and have had to go back maybe a year later for a couple for treatments because I had slight pain and never needed to go back again and have been pain free ever since. Not sure if treat is called different things depending on the location ( I’m from Canada). I hope you look into this and have the same success I have. Be Safe and keep up the videos

  • If the David and Goliath story is to be believed, then David is really famous for being the first guy in history to bring a gun to a knife fight.

  • My personal experience is that time is a commodity. I stop when I see that things are going south and explain. I never display distain or even anger unless its a repeat of a safety issue

  • Adams watch times must be super high vs other channels. its hard to imagine skipping ahead

  • The question to ask one's self is "Am I gonna have to fix this if it gets messed up?" If the answer is yes, intervene.

    • @Cee64E like I said, financial and timewise boundaries are important. Yes, a countertop shouldn't be cut too short, but I'm sure there's places where an extra drill hole that wasn't lined up will be fine to cover, and asking for perfection from the start isn't necessary. Just make sure that if someone's gonna make an expensive mistake, the lesson is extremely valuable.

    • @Danner rrr, if one is in an educational setting, then mistakes can happen, do-overs are a part of learning. The same if one is working on one's own projects. As a professional cabinet maker, knowing I can't un-cut a finished countertop if I cut it wrong, I will be very diligent that I don't make any mistakes, and that no one else does either.

    • sometimes that's ok too, if fixing it is within your boundaries, fiscal and timewise. My partner is too afraid to gain new tool skills if she doesn't have the confidence that we can fix or replace whatever she's working on. AKA do-overs are allowed. Now she's confident with drills, saws, etc... loves impact wrenches.

  • When making stuff with your children it's best to just make the stuff with them and let them ask the what's and why's. They will ask for the lesson when they need the lesson and learn from observation and doing it when they don't need the lesson.

  • I was lucky enough to 'have' to build a 8 ft tall trebuchet for my high school Physics class. Getting that pin just right was the hardest thing. But once you did? So much fun launching pumpkins across the football field, trying to make it between the uprights from 100 yards away. You know, for science.

  • What an incredible lessen in this conversation! Great. Great. Great. Let them make mistakes. It’s teaching students to ask the right questions that is a struggle for me.

  • you have kids?

  • I love hearing Adam talk about Thing 1 and Thing 2. So much love and passion for parenting, right there.

  • I step in if the mistake will be dangerous or really expensive. Everything else is learning.

    • agreed. word for word actually ha.

  • I am a motorcycle rider coach (instructor) for the MSF. one of the best things to ask a student after they attempt an exercise is "so, what did you do wrong?" most of the time they know, but just bringing it out, and having them say it out loud and acknowledge it, usually corrects it quicker then me telling them. and yes, I make sure to tell them what they did right too, as keeping their confidence up (but not too high) is important for them to learn. a typical conversation would be, "you know what you did wrong?" "yeah, I didn't turn my head enough" "yup, your speed was good, just get that head turn on the next try" or something like that. quick instruction, and fix one thing at a time. and let them fumble around a bit (if they are still safe) and they will get it.

  • Wow. Adam speaks from the heart!

  • 'Let kids make mistakes but don't let them fail' is something to internalize as a parent.

    • Failure builds character, and can be a powerful motivator to do better. Sometimes you can do everything right and still fail at a task, life isn't always fair that way. It's how you react to failure that matters, a willingness to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and to try again until you succeed will get you far in life.

  • Teaching is a parenting skill that is sometimes hard to master. Failure can be its own teacher!

  • I wish helicopter parents would watch this video but the irony is that the ones that need to see it the most won't see it at all.

  • as a curious child decades ago I had so many failed attempts at experiments and eventually just gave up due to lack of support (No I was not a new Einstein so not a big loss ), big thanks to encouraging an supporting next gen

  • If you don't mess up you won't get the opportunity to figure out a solution. Don't be to eager to tell them the solution either. They might find another way to deal with the issue that just might be a better way then your way. Progress and evolving. If they get stuck then yes steer them in the right direction just about far enough that lets them "come up with the solution" of them selves. It's a hard and a very thin line to walk.

  • This is one of the best Q&A videos yet.