Complaining, Allowing Students to Fail, Two Edges of Honesty

With a whirlwind week that had me in Phoenix, back in New Hampshire, and preparing for a weekend in Maine, I bring you “TK Thoughts of the Week”:

  1. This week I got involved in a discussion about complaining. This group of folks were trying an experiment where they would not complain for 24 hours. My question to this group was: “What constitutes complaining?” If I see something not being done efficiently or effectively and can change it through my feedback, is that complaining? If you are truly wronged and need to let someone know it, is that complaining? If you think thoughts but don’t voice them, is that complaining? The group really didn’t address my questions, but it did make me wonder, what truly is complaining?
  2. I truly think the biggest mistake we make with formal education at all levels in the U.S. is that we do not allow enough energy by the students to be spent on making mistakes. Because of our need for grades and ranking students, we do not allow an environment where people can “fail safely”. We reward the person who strives to only have the “right” answers to things — gathering and regurgitating worthless knowledge instead truly teaching people to be lifelong learners. Eliminate grades altogether and instead let people work on things that have have no “right” answers. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is fine, but working on insanely hard things and exercising one’s brain by falling flat is much better.
  3. In another of my self-evaluation experiments that I have been doing, I asked the world to tell me what they thought I did well and what I didn’t do well. I asked people to be as honest with me as they could, with no regard to my feelings. While the response sample set was small, the results were telling. Nearly everyone said that my greatest attribute was that I was generous with my time and brutally honest with my feedback. Most people thought that because of those two things, what I do best is coach people. As equally interesting, what people said was my biggest weakness is that I was brutally honest! They thought that when I was honest in public it actually was a negative. Honesty in public settings made people not like listen and did not endear people to me. It is an interesting thing when you realize that your greatest quality is also your greatest flaw. It sounds like something an ancient Greek poet would write about.

May your weekend be filled with fast horses, lots of smiles, and a touch of bourbon.