I've blogged before about the importance of compliments. I also feel the need to take a stance on the importance of criticism.
I attended a class yesterday where we were talking about grading student work. The large majority of my fellow students expressed the opinion that we should not give out "bad" grades, because it discourages the students from success, and we should take into account the "effort" of the students, who tried so hard, but failed miserably.
Now, I am probably too much of a hard nose, but I was not going to let this whole discussion proceed without my imput. I expressed the opinion that its not fair to the students who really do their best job, and really do-do well, if we give everyone "A"s for effort. I don't feel motivated to do my best effort, if anyone can get an "A", where is my motivation for pushing myself, in that situation?
Thankfully, I was not the only one that expressed similar opinions, although I looked like the overachieving-snob, but others did mention that if we give everyone "A"s and don't give them constructive criticism, how are they going to know what they did wrong, and how will they know where there is need for improvement? Another student said when she gets a "B" she is movitavted to find out why it was only "B" quality and strive for that "A." Another classmate said we are not preparing them for college and the real world if we let them slide by with easy "A"s. This however did not silence the still-majority who said we should give out an abudance of good grades because we don't want to "promote failure."
And to the argument of "we don't give out an A for effort in Math," and then the counter argument "but English is subjective," I think English isn't that subjective. I think obviously to some degree it is, but you can also identify good and bad grammar, solidly researched/supported/founded arguments, clear articulation, and supported thesis.
I think if we do not give constructive criticism, and honest criticism, we are not promoting self-evaluation and improvement.
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