Learning and criticism

Druid Life

The conventional wisdom is that to learn, you have to be open to robust criticism. I’ve been teaching various kinds of creative and spiritual things for a good twenty years now, and I’m increasingly convinced that the criticism approach doesn’t work that well.

What does work, is drawing people’s attention to their own successes. Tell someone what they do especially well, or what makes their work stand out. Tell them what you like about what they do, or where you can see progress.

People who intend to learn and grow are often really harsh critics of their own work. They mostly don’t need other people to pick holes in it as well. If you’re in a position of being able to offer feedback, praising the stuff that works is really useful. It boosts and encourages the person, and you can learn a lot from hearing about what you are doing…

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One thought on “Learning and criticism

  1. -Lied von Falkenstein.

    Who rides so late through night and wind?
    It’s the father with his child;
    He has the young lad safe in his arm,
    He holds him tightly, he keeps him warm

    “My son, why do you hide your face, so frightened?”-
    “Don’t you see, father, the Alder-King?
    The Alder-King with his crown and tail?”-
    “My son, it’s a wisp of fog.”

    “You sweet child, come, go with me!
    Such beautiful games I’ll play with you;
    There are lots of beautiful flowers on the shore;
    My mother has many golden clothes”-

    “My father, my father, and don’t you hear,
    What the Alder-King promises me softly?”-
    “Hush now, stay quiet, my child;
    The wind is whispering in dry leaves.”-

    “Do you want, fine lad, to go with me?
    My daughters shall wait on you, hand and foot;
    My daughters lead the nightly dance,
    And they’ll show you how to sway and dance and sing.”-

    “My father, my father, and don’t you see
    Alder-King’s daughters in that dark place?”-
    “My son, my son, I see it clearly:
    The old willows shimmer so gray.-”

    “I love you, your beautiful shape tantalizes me;
    And if you are not willing, I’m going to use force.”-
    “My father, my father, now he’s grabbing me!
    Alder-King hurt me!”-

    The father is filled with horror, he rides quickly
    He holds the groaning child in his arm,
    He just barely reaches the homestead
    The child was dead in his arms.

    Der Erlkönig – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

    Liked by 1 person

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