Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tell Me What to Do

Seth Godin always makes me think.  And this time - he has me thinking about the feedback we give students on writing.  First - his words:

If you've ever hired or managed or taught, you know the feeling.

People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: "If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I'm safe."

When asked, resist.

Now - to my thinking.  How often have we taken a piece of student writing and circled misspelled words or incorrect punctuation? How many times have we commented to add more details or "tell me more?"

I know that we balance positive feedback with the "cool" but aren't we still telling the student what to do with their writing?  How do we teach them to more critically evaluate their writing - to find the places where consultation with a dictionary or the addition of details are needed?

The next time you want to add these kinds of comments to a paper - resist.

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