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Posts Tagged ‘negative

The number of likes this tweet received probably reflects the number of higher education faculty who can relate to it. 

By generalising the phenomenon we might conclude that we tend to focus on the negative. This is why newspapers and broadcasters tend to report bad news — it gets eyeballs and attention.

The underlying psychological cause is a survival instinct. We are primed to spot danger. Something negative is a possible threat and we pay a disproportionate amount of attention on that. 

But giving sensationalised news and one bad review too much attention is not good either. These might demoralise us and shift our energy away from what is important. 

What is important is making improvements. I do not place much weight on end-of-course evaluations because they are rarely valid or designed properly. 

Instead I focus on what happens at every lesson. I self-evaluate, I pick up cues as the lesson progresses, and I get feedback from my students. I do not wait for the end of a course because it is too late to do anything then. I prefer to prevent a ship from running aground.

This hit my Twitter stream yesterday.

Confusing WHO statement about ibuprofen.

The one thing I can say for sure about this WHO statement is that it is confusing. What is the meaning of “does not recommend against the use”?

A clearer and more direct statement might have been: WHO does not have enough information at the moment about using ibuprofen to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.

I would jump on this ordinarily. But I have been sensitised to writing as a form of persuasive communication because I have been grading student essays.

Most of the essays need the same medicine. No, not ibuprofen. The medicine is clear and direct writing. This doctor says take one of each tablet (clear and direct) before, during, and after writing. It will prevent headaches.

Like most folks who teach, I can relate to the comic below. I respond the same way.

This might be a natural human response given how bad news and reviews travel or stick more. It is one way for newspapers to survive and app developers to die of reputational embarrassment.

But focusing on what only grabs attention is detrimental. It might drag morale or disable action. I will try to focus on what worked well while taking constructively offered feedback into account.

Example of positive feedback left by a graduate student in a one-minute paper.

My current sets of students are future university professors and researchers. It is rare for such faculty-to-be to offer positive and unsolicited feedback in an open area like a one-minute paper.

I appreciate the shared thought and am energised to keep performing at a high level. To do less would be a disservice to my learners.


Video source

This video provides some insights into why we seem to have a negative bias when it comes to news.

We are wired to pay more attention to bad news. Our brains process such information more thoroughly than good news. This might explain why we might focus on one criticism even though we also receive nine plaudits.

The surprise finding might be how social media might counter our Debbie downer tendency. The narrator highlighted studies that found how we might share and spread more positive content. Why?

We consume news as outside observers, but we use social media as active participants.

So actively sharing positive content might a coping and counter mechanism to how we are biologically wired.

But how we are wired keeps us vigilant. The point is not to shield ourselves or hide from bad news. That same news keeps us informed so that we can take action.

If I had to guess, most neutrals reading my tweets and blog entries might think I am being negative or even alarmist.

I am neither. I am just providing critical responses to uncritical reports, uninformed newspaper journalists, snake oil vendors, etc.

Why do this? I have two views. One is this.
 

Broken bridge 1 by novellino09, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  novellino09 

 
I have travelled ahead and I see that the bridge is out. It is my responsibility to tell you not to take that route. I will use strong words and I might even try to block you. But it is up to you whether to continue on that path.

My other view is this.

Empire State Pigeon by ZeroOne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  ZeroOne 

 

On certain matters, I have a bird’s eye view. This means I can see the bigger or different picture, and I can make out details even from a distance.

If I can help you see something you cannot, why would you not want me to point it out? If I can see that the bridge is out, do I not have a duty to inform?

So go ahead, dull your senses, and call me negative or alarmist. Just know this: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Words do not matter; actions do.


Video source

Non-mathematical evidence that two negatives (Nyan cat song and Rebecca Black’s Friday) can sound good when mashed up.


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