Sunday, December 21, 2008

Criticism Part I

Recently I noticed a flaw in one of my teacher's tests. While it was pretty obvious to me, I started questioning whether or not I should point it out. Did I not see everything? Was I missing some information? He knows better than me, right?

These questionings stemmed from me being unsure of myself. I wasn't questioning the validity of the flaw, but the status that he and I held. I was the student and he was the knowing teacher.

Once I realized this, I sent it as respectfully as I could and I got this back:

"Dear [Rabbit B.]

Thank you for this thoughtful criticism. I've considered what you say and believe you may be right. My not entirely groundless skepticism has perhaps led me to underestimate my students and even my own teaching. Your message alone is evidence of that.

Anyway, I'm going to incorporate changes into my exams next term that will follow your suggestion, probably by way of introducing a large essay question into the final and making it count for a substantial portion of the exam grade. I may make other changes as well.

Again, many thanks for this. You've done a good thing by writing."

If you see a flaw, point it out. As long as you're sure the person isn't prideful or vain, what could go wrong? If you're right, it'll help them. If you're wrong, it'll help you understand. Don't be afraid of statuses or whether you're experienced enough to offer criticism. Helping someone is much greater than the small risk of being wrong.

You'll be doing a good thing.

Note: If the person is vain/prideful, make sure they're not in a position to hurt you. "Never outshine the master."

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