Another dot in the blogosphere?

Cruel to be kind

Posted on: March 27, 2019

 
If there is one thing I am positive about it is that I would rather be “cruel” in order to be kind. I do this even if I might come across as negative.

I design and implement learning experiences for adult learners. Most of the learning happens when they attempt challenging assignments and perform authentic tasks. These activities highlight gaps and my learners are likely to make mistakes or fail.

When I provide feedback, I offer encouragement when it is warranted. I also highlight areas of improvement as directly and as clearly as I can.

Most students seem able to process such feedback in the spirit it is intended. A few seem to only expect positive strokes or do not believe they could be wrong. This is unrealistic and harmful — no one is perfect, and focusing only on the positives does not build resilience or nurture reflectiveness.

If students do not receive less than pleasant feedback, they are not taught how to listen under these circumstances. They also need to be explicitly taught listening strategies, e.g., wait time, clarifying questions, reflection.

I would rather critique than mollycoddle. As an educator of not just content but also of values and attitudes, I would be acting irresponsibly if I did not.

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