Another dot in the blogosphere?

Of vinegar and honey

Posted on: November 30, 2019

Alfie Kohn is not afraid to say what is on his mind and he says it well. The saying makes little sense and is bad advice.

One of the things I remember most about studying in the USA and observing some students and teachers there is how positive they were. They preferred to encourage rather than point out mistakes.

This did not sit well with me then because I was used to direct critique and even unkind criticism. But I understood the rationale for staying on the light side — we do not want to discourage learners who are struggling with new content or experiences.

Educators who blog and tweet their thoughts share a common story set. They tell of how they might receive 99 positive responses and just one negative comment. They dwell or even obsess on the one.

That is not a bad thing if that single comment is fair. That is not a bad thing if it points out a flaw and you try to improve as a result.
 

 
The honey does not only not catch flies, it disguises what is wrong underneath it. Give only praise and learners making mistakes might think there is nothing wrong or nothing to change.

The trick is to provide constructive comments. These invariably come across as tough or even negative. I find that it helps to set learner expectations (I am not going to sugar-coat) and to rationalise (this is why I gave this feedback).

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