Another dot in the blogosphere?

Being “cruel” to be kind

Posted on: October 1, 2017

As much as I try to promote and model progressive forms of education, I am “old school” in some ways. I believe in being “cruel” to be kind.

I get a fair bit of my work done at public libraries. These libraries have a rule about not leaving personal property behind to reserve seats or tables.

Signs pasted on table tops inform patrons that abandoned property will be confiscated and put in special collection areas.

Librarians make their rounds to remind users not to reserve seats or leave belongings unattended. If patrons are absent, the librarians are authorised to remove the abandoned items. Instead, most librarians leave warning notes behind instead.

I have observed patrons return to the seats, see the notes, and nonchalantly crumple them up. The rule is not upheld and there is no consequence for their actions.

The librarians probably want to avoid confrontations with patrons. But by being considerate to such patrons, the librarians allow the inconsiderate behaviour of some patrons to persist.

It is better to be cruel to be kind. This adds teeth to the rules and takes a bite out of inconsiderate behaviour.

These libraries are one of my work spaces. I often provide feedback and grade assignments there.

In the earlier piece, I explained how and why I provide feedback that goes beyond content. I am particular about how my learners write and I am strict about the standards they need to achieve.

Like the upholding of library rules, I am “cruel” to be kind. I believe in providing encouragement, but I also know that errors and bad habits must be clearly and firmly pointed out.

If doing this bruises the egos of my learners, so be it. I am confident that they will grow and learn from the pain eventually. After all, we learn more from occasionally falling down than constantly staying up.

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