Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Opening Conversations Leave Us Vulnerable

vulnerableIn Daniel Learned ALL about Audiences Yesterday. from The Tempered Radical, Bill Ferriter shared a situation where his students were blogging and a commenter was extremely critical and snarky. Then he asked,

“So why am I bothering to teach my kids about writing for public audiences when those audiences are just as likely to want to tear them down as they are to build them up?  Wouldn't we be better off if we wrote only for audiences that would model the kinds of responsible behaviors that we want our kids to develop?”

Wouldn’t the world be wonderful if everyone was nice, agreed with everything we said and were nonjudgmental? Of course that is a fantasy world and will never happen.

I believe this teacher is doing the right thing with his students by encouraging them to write for public audiences. This is a sample of real life and luckily they have their teacher to help them deal with the situations that come up.
They handled this situation extremely well and I’m sure this comes from the guidance they have had from the teacher. They didn’t retreat with their tail tucked between their legs like a chastened dog only to feel humiliated and bitter. Instead they stood up to the challenge and answered maturely. If the teacher allowed them to retreat, I think it would have sent a wrong message that people shouldn’t question each other and only write for those people that will agree with us.

Instead, they thought about how to answer this comment with maturity that allows a conversation to continue rather than cut it off. They worked together to problem solve an appropriate response to the commenter. Opening conversations always leave us vulnerable and this will happen often to our students in real life. What better way than to show them how to act appropriately while they are in the classroom rather than let them be blindsided when they leave school.

There were so many lessons learned from the situation that I think it was actually a positive event rather than a negative event. Sure, it hurt their feelings, but they were able to see how comments affect others from the writer’s point of view. This will help them be more tactful when they leave comments. This also teaches them that not everyone is nice and how to handle a situation when people aren’t nice or if they disagree.

It is really hard for me when others criticize me or disagree with me. I tend to want to curl up in a ball and lick my wounds. Then I remember that criticism helps me clarify my thoughts. Maybe I didn’t explain myself very well or maybe there is a side that I didn’t think about. Sometimes I believe more strongly that I’m right. Opening conversations make me very vulnerable but I usually come out a better person when it is all finished.

So, I hope Bill continues to encourage his students to write for public audiences. This is real life and what better lesson can we give our students then a lesson that is relevant to today’s world. Good job Bill!

How do you feel about students writing for public audiences? Please share.

Image: 'Lion Lessons: Do it now!!!'
Found on flickrcc.net

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