Why we love to criticize

Teachers know they have to come up with a variety of different ways to keep us students interested and engaged in the material they are teaching.  They use case studies, in-class application assignments, videos and readings to get our attention.  But nothing seems to work better than “critiquing” the work of professionals.

I don’t know why this exercise works, but nothing seems to capture the attention of my fellow classmates more than discussing the reasons we don’t like a particular piece of writing and what we would do to make it better. 

Most recently we were given pieces of direct mail to critique.  It started out much the same with people bringing up points they liked about the pieces, but then one negative comment was made and that was it.  The negative comments just kept coming.  Mind you, they were all valid points and I think we all learned what we want our direct mail pieces to look like by discussing what we definitely don’t want them to look like.

There could be many reasons why this exercise of critiquing always works to get us engaged in the topic, but I think the reason we all get so into it is simple: it makes us feel better.  By seeing that those in the professional world can make mistakes and produce pieces that aren’t that great, we feel better about our skills since we are able to point out these mistakes.  By recognizing them we will likely be able to create better pieces when we are employed.

Also, I think it assures us that we will not be fired for writing pieces that aren’t quite up to top standard; that if professionals in the business make mistakes, so can we.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for our grades.  When we get constructive criticism from our teachers, we should be thankful for the opportunity to improve in the safety of the classroom.  That way, when we are working full-time, we can produce work that would make classrooms full of students jealous 🙂

To my fellow students, do you agree with my interpretation or do you feel there is some other reason we love to critique the works of professionals?

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1 Comment »

  1. We enjoy critiquing the work of others for all the reasons you state.
    I also think many of us think “I could do that better!” and it gives us hope. Of course….as I’ve often said….we have no idea under what contraints these various projects were written. They could have been written under an extreme deadline or extreme pressure or (the worst) written by committee.
    Students will experience all of these conditions on the job. Then, they’ll be in a better position to critique.


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