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Posted 29 Aug 2010 in observation

Twice this week for workshops I used a video of myself from a long time ago, working with two children who were building a bridge in clay. One of the questions I had prepared for teachers to discuss in small groups asked them to critique the teacher–what she did well, what mistakes she made, what might have been done better. As I walked around listening in on the conversations, teachers stopped talking if I was in ear shot for this question.

Critique is not commonly part of the culture of our schools. In fact, it is rare that situations occur where there is a forum for dialogue, exchange and critique of this kind. And in my experience when there is opportunity to observe a colleague or review a video or read a conversation, most educators focus on the actions and words of children and avoid those of the adult. Fear of hurting another’s feelings prevents dialogue and exchange that can greatly (and positively) impact teaching. Perhaps if we considered uncertainty, doubt and mistakes as resources in education instead of liabilities, we would feel more available for this type of exchange, but in the current climate of assessment of teachers, a mistake translates into a sort of demerit. Many teachers are alone or with one colleague in a classroom at best. If we don’t use each other as resources, how will we grow?


  1. Jessica

    You are right Jennifer. Since we are very young we are taught that mistakes are bad, that we should not make mistakes ever. We are not taught to learn from our mistakes, we are taught to be afraid of them.

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