Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Critic's Critic

"So what's good about this..."


"Now what could be changed.."

We are all familiar with these words. We have heard them every Tuesday and Thursday for the past three months. We have sat in a circle, while one victim sits timidly and passes out their entry just waiting for what is to come. We sit and talk for fifteen minuets, and when there is nothing left to say we move on to the next unwilling person. Now what kind of people watcher would I be if I didn't talk about this.

In class and anywhere, I believe, we have been taught to start with the positive and end with the negative, or the not so positive. Throughout this class I have realized why this is. It is so much easier to come up with changes than it is to offer praise for one's work. There are days where we all just sit there looking for something to say that is good. This doesn't mean that it is all bad, it's just that we have been raised to be critics.

Just from this observation, it is easy to find the different personalities in the room. Some people don't talk at all because, as with everyone else, it is difficult to find the good and easy to find the bad. The difference is that these mutes do not want to seem rude or mean. They do not want to be liked less for talking about someone else's work. On the flip side, some people talk so much in order to fill the silence or to get noticed and make a presence in the room. Even with these different personalities, most everyone struggles on the receiving end of criticism.

Criticism is something that has to be taken with a grain of salt. If it is not, it can be very hard to swallow. No one wants to hear that their work is not up to par, or that their creative take on a subject was possibly the wrong one. It can be looked at from a different perspective, though. The more comments received shows an interest by others in improving the quality of a specific entry. Entries that do not necessarily interest the audience do not receive as many comments because people have a hard time relating to the topic.

People do not criticize in order to be mean, but in order to help. There is a difference between teasing and and criticizing. Teasing has an evil intent, while criticism is geared towards improvement. Remember this the next time you are in the spotlight, and it should come much easier.

Disclaimer: I know there are some of you reading this that believe some comments were geared towards you or about you, which only proves my point further. Everyone has blogs or works, less specifically, that are not their best and also everyone has those that captivate an audience. You're showing your personality; thanks for adding to the validity of my entry.


  1. I'm glad you took the time to reflect on this. With this class, I've had to do much less talking than I did last semester. I appreciate students making the class their own, whether it's out of a dislike of silence or a desire to share their thoughts.

    When you make a comment on someone's entry, you help them by encouraging them to keep doing what they do well or by suggesting a concrete way to improve something. At the same time, you're also helping yourself become a better reader.

    I've always liked to talk in class (English classes, anyway), but it's been painful for me, too, at times. Once I took a class I had absolutely NO background in, and we were graded on participation. I had to come up with something to say, and it had to be intelligible, if not astoundingly brilliant. I got better as the semester went on, and when the class was over I felt an immense sense of accomplishment for having contributed and kept up my part of the discussion.

    Moral of the story (and I hate that I have one): You know you're learning when you feel awkward. Temporary discomfort makes you a better student and sometimes a better person.

  2. "thanks for adding to the validity of my entry." You saying that made me laugh alot. But anyways, I understand what you're getting at with how the situation that we're being put in in class definitely shows our different personalities based on the situation.

    You're really correct about criticism too, that while some people take it poorly that if taken properly it can lead to definite improvement in our writing! Also to comment on Allison's comment, the discomfort that one feels will be helpful because later on you will most likely be asked to talk in front of a group of your co-workers in the future about your opinion on something.

  3. This is a great entry. It made me laugh a little because I thought about how we go about class each time someone brings in an entry and you're absolutely right. I think it is necessary to receive criticism in our lives because we become better from it. Sometimes it is definitely hard to hear, but if we really consider someone else's opinion instead of digging our heels into the ground, we could really use their words to improve.