Embracing Criticism

One of the mindshifts that is necessary for me to gain the most out of blogging is the willingness to embrace criticism. Having my ideas, my planning and my implementation of how to do my job open to be contradicted, disputed, queried and requiring justification by others is where the most personal professional growth will occur. By leading my "sacred cows" out in the wilderness of the wide open web where anyone can have a potshot, they will either develop armoured hides (as in the ideas have merit and their usefulness is confirmed) or they are slaughtered and new thinking will rise phoenix-like in its place.   

I believe that there's a real skill in challenging  assertions and providing an alternative point of view. The really skilled challengers (regular ones on this blog like Alex Hayes, Artichoke, Bill Kerr and Doug Noon) know that getting my attention when they read something contentious or contrary to their educational (and life) experience isn't as simple as saying, "I think you're wrong." Diplomacy and tact are important ingredients for successful criticism and a willingness to expose your own thinking for the benefit of another person who you may only know through their blog takes some guts.

It's nice when people agree with you - it confirms that you're not a lone pariah - but the greatest conversations on this (or any) blog come when my writing is challenged and stretched beyond its comfort zone. Don't get me wrong. This is not an invitation for trolls to deliberately come baiting. If you think I'm off track, tell me why. I'm always ready to embrace your criticism.

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7 thoughts on “Embracing Criticism

  1. Doug Noon

    There is a tendency in teacher-culture (speaking from my own experience) to shut the door (literally) and protect ideas as if they were personal property. The greatest thing about teacher bloggers is that this stance toward knowledge and practice is being torn down. Yours is one of the most courageous examples of teacher blogging that I know.

    If we’re going to make any progress in advancing educational practice, it will only be through skeptical inquiry into our own cherished beliefs, and seeing how they stack up against the real world tests that a roomful of kids can provide. Inquiry begins at home, and you exemplify that principle in the very finest way.

  2. dswaters

    I believe at this point, after reading your post, I should be criticizing it – however in true Sue diplomacy I agree. The aspect I like most about you Graham is the fact that you challenge people’s thoughts and beliefs – which in term makes them reflect on the issues.

    If everyone always agreed there would be no need for change. I wish I could be more like you and I hope one day that I will be.


  3. Lauren

    If we don’t challenge then we do not move forward. That is what innovation is all about. However I agree with you that this is not an easy thing, as teachers we have become used to agreement. This is further supported in employment practices where you are agreeing to criteria to further your carreer.
    I must admit personally I am still getting used to being challenged in the blogsphere and in presentations. i do however love being challenged to think about my beliefs and why I believe them.

  4. Kevin Sandridge

    Pushing our personal and professional boundaries and opening up ourselves to new information is something our school’s administration has targeted its focus on this year. It’s a scary proposition for some, and the idea of letting go of one’s control over a collection of tools or educational practices is a big step for them to take. Even so, I have been inspired by a few conversations I’ve had today with some of our more adventurous teachers, and I trust that we will be able to develop a small cadre of collaborative technology users by year’s end. Baby steps….


  5. Alexander Hayes

    “……It’s nice when people agree with you – it confirms that you’re not a lone pariah”

    I’ve heard some other quotes which may be of interest….sources are debatable……one of them is a philiospher and radical educationalist, one other is a politician and the other …… See if you can guess which is which.

    “I keep my enemies close to me ….that way my family have less chance of eating me for Xmas dinner”

    “Only teachers use the term ‘e-learning’…….my students know it by other behaviors”

    “I am being. I am alone”.

  6. Tracy

    I’ve started to feel that only when I am slightly uncomfortable (or even majorly uncomfortable) will true learning start to take place.

    I like your observations.


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