It is easier to be critical than correct.
Today’s post is fueled by the need to understand my own annoyance about something I encountered today. I try to avoid channeling that annoyance and aggression into my writing, but I might fail. Bear with me.
Is criticism truly a sign of intelligence?
I attended a study-related situation today where I was truly put off by the behavior of a few people. I don’t know them, but I’m assuming they’re sane, intelligent human beings. My perception was probably warped, so I’m exaggerating, but it felt as if their every comment was aimed at criticizing something – the tasks at hand, the people we were talking about, the actual skill set we were practicing.
The most annoying thing was that they didn’t really offer any suggestions as to the improvement of any of these situations. No, I take that back. The most annoying thing was that they spent most of the session giggling and whispering like teenagers, but that’s beside the point of this post.
Now, I’m all for a critical attitude towards life, in the sense that it’s not very wise to accept every phenomenon in life without questioning. If we never question our own behavior, we never get the incentive to change it and to develop, to grow, to evolve.
Inside out vs. outside in
The key point for me, though, is to criticize from the inside. To be able to really see the things that work and don’t work in any given approach – in teaching, in communication, in relationships – I’ll have to give it a try more than once to weed out the random beginner results.
Let’s say I’ve never taught anyone to read, and I find out about this method of teaching kids to read with the help of typing on a computer screen. Before I can say anything about this method from my own experience, I have to get that experience by trying to teach at least, say, five to twenty kids to read with the help of typing.
The annoying thing about these whiners I came across today was that they were definitely not experts in what we were practicing. Fair enough, they didn’t need to be, since we were practicing.
Yet they complained about how this kind of approach makes no sense, that using this tool would completely undermine the specialized skill set they’ve acquired from other contexts.
Um, how do you know this based on three exercises? Furthermore, based on three exercises you didn’t even do properly, seeing as you were gossiping with your friends and reading other stuff? (This was the aggression-venting part. Now I have it out of my system. 🙂 )
As to the real reason behind their complaints, I won’t venture more than some wild guesses. Maybe they were frustrated with the work load of the studies. Or with the fact that they were not doing as well with the tasks as they thought they should have. Or they were tired. Or they felt that the way to display intelligence and insight was indeed to criticize the actual task itself. Who knows.
Fortunately, I had another group experience today that contrasted this one completely. Insightful conversation on important topics and a supportive, inspiring teacher leading the conversation. Conversation focusing on the topic instead of technicalities or undermining the teacher’s expertise. If I hadn’t encountered these whiners earlier that day, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did now. Turned out all right after all. 🙂
Thank you for stopping by again – keep catching your own insightings!