Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is Criticism per se Negative? Forgive and Remember.

In this blog I have tried to address the reader directly, especially about matters where students and faculty get themselves in trouble. My descriptions of pathologies are not meant to address the reader negatively; rather they are meant to describe the problem in such a way that you can avoid it or correct it. Just because you have to admit to yourself and others that you have erred is not a sign of failure. As pointed out in Bosk's Forgive and Remember, about the training of surgeons, the trick is to admit your mistakes, forgive yourself and be forgiven by your superiors, and then go on. Not Remembering is the sure road to future errancy. So "a positive learning environment" is one in which problems are faced directly, and dealt with, and where future judgments are not too much influenced by mistakes. In other words, one focuses on the problems themselves, without making a judgment about those you are addressing. Truly supportive environments make it possible for students and scholars to become more effective. To talk about errors, ones that are made by many scholars and students, is not to damn them: it is to prevent them from continuing to make mistakes.

One other fact: Any problem that I describe is not only or mainly about you. It is recurrent and ubiquitous. I never write about idiosyncratic problems.

The best positive resolution of mistakes is your being able to go forward not making the same mistakes as you have been making. In Bosk's terms, you want to remember your errors, that memory also within  the system as well, correct the errors in the future, and be forgiven as a person.

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