The value of constructive criticism

Geoffrey Dochat, Staff Writer

Feedback is one of the most important elements of growth and improvement in adolescents. I know firsthand how much a simple piece of feedback regarding my performance in athletics or school can help me improve. The catch is that those who praise you or provide you with criticism have to do so in such a way that is beneficial to your growth, rather than simply feeding your head with jargon to make you feel better.

In the movie Whiplash, a young man aspiring to be a professional jazz drummer attends a highly prestigious school for jazz musicians. J.K. Simmons’ Terence Fletcher, the band’s director, is a foul-mouthed psychopath who antagonizes his students to the point where they either quit the band, or in one terrible case, commit suicide. The movie is a narrative of how a student strives for acceptance and acknowledgement from a person who he genuinely respects. Although Fletcher is a maniac, he shows one trait that I would consider paramount for someone giving feedback to other’s work and that is honesty.

Fletcher’s reasoning is that when someone hears that they’ve done a “good job” they will stop making progress and slowly decline. I strongly believe this to be the dividing line between effective and non-effective teachers and coaches.

If you’re like me, you have the upmost respect for your coaches. They work hard so that athletes have an opportunity for success, but that hard work requires them to give feedback in regards to your performance. If a lacrosse player catches all the passes thrown to him and the coach tells him, “good job,” the player won’t practice catching anymore because he thinks that he has mastered that skill. Soon enough, however, the refinement of that skill will be lost since itis no longer being practiced.

If a teacher writes “good job” on an assignment you receive a B+ on, you begin to think that a B+ is all that the teacher expects out of you. You did a good job. Be happy. Settle.

According to PsychTests, 29 percent of the population believe that people criticize others in order to hurt, not help. In order to truly move forward and grow as an individual, one must accept their shortcomings, realize they are not infallible and learn how to receive criticism without remarks.

Criticism and feedback are invaluable tools that should leave you wanting to improve-to prove others wrong. I don’t want to know that I did a good job, I want to know that I did the best job. And if not, how can I get there?