Criticism: A Lesson in What Not to Do

I have some criticism for the way many principals do criticism. It’s like being a principal turns you into  the evil overlord from a YA Fantasy book. Thing is, even Voldemort can’t impress his values via force. Being vociferous certainly transmits your values. But does it make your audience receptive? 

Here’s my test for all teachers and principals administering criticism to their students: Is there anyone else in the universe you would treat this way? 

This story from Esti Wieder: 

I went to a seriously Yeshivish elementary school in Brooklyn. The principal of the school had two go-to methods for education:  intimidation and humiliation.

Our school had very strict Tznius rules. Our uniform shirts had Tznius buttons that must be closed at all times. I didn’t like closing mine, partially because it was uncomfortable and partially because I was told I had better keep it closed or else.

One day I was walking in the hallway and the principal came over to me, grabbed me by the collar in a choke-hold, and hissed at me, “Close your Tznius button!”

Yeah, you can bet it was never closed after that.

Same principal yanked a “bra strap” headband off of a girls head and threw it right in the trash because we weren’t allowed to wear headbands with ponytails. Because, you know, Torah.

As someone wise once said: Who is respected? He (or she) who respects all the creations. 

Criticism: A Lesson in What Not to Do

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