We should embrace criticism rather than fear it

We should embrace criticism rather than fear it

“Wisdom is not the product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

These were the words of physicist Albert Einstein and are important because all of us should be trying to learn new things every day of our lives.

It doesn’t matter who the advice is from, we should always be prepared to take the words of others on board.

An example of this came recently after one of my excellent students had given a presentation to the class.


While the content of what she delivered was very good, she was disappointed at our feedback on how she presented it.

She believed our words were negative and felt sad, thinking she had done a bad job.

What she didn’t realize was that it was my intention for the students to get views from their classmates, however difficult this may have been for them.

Listening to others and getting their perspectives is so important because nothing we ever do is instantly perfect.

Hopefully the experience means next time my students give a presentation, they will do an even better job.

‘No good ideas’

Perhaps Einstein knew better than most the value of absorbing other people’s views, with these helping to form many of his theories.

Feedback, whether it’s positive or negative is always essential in guiding us.

Even a young Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper after being told he lacked creativity and had no good ideas.

And this criticism did him no harm in his future career.

While I would never be so harsh with any of my students, the point is, we are always learning and other people’s views and perspectives are crucial.

Unfortunately, there are many who cut themselves off to the opinions of others, stubbornly thinking the knowledge they have grasped by themselves is enough.

Too polite?

But perhaps the reason people do this is because our society allows them to.

It could be that we are too polite and don’t want to offend others and because of this sometimes keep strong views to ourselves.

This approach is deep-rooted in many cultures but does not benefit anyone.

Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to education.

Accepting criticism

Every pupil should be taught to see criticism as a positive not a negative and a crucial step towards success and self improvement.

This is because education is not simply about what students can learn from a textbook, but how each of them interprets this information.

They should be empowered to give their views honestly and openly, with the group debate and discussion key platforms for sharing ideas.

Within this environment, constructive criticism should be accepted as just as important as the opportunity to air their own views.

Willingness to listen

Listening to others provides us with access to a diversity of ideas and potential solutions we could not have generated on our own.

There are examples of this everywhere — in education it can help us understand textbooks better or solve a problem, while in life it may stop us making a bad decision that turns out to be a mistake.

Listening expands perspectives and enables any society to proactively address potential issues rather than simply react to them after they escalate.

It doesn’t matter if the person giving the advice is a university lecturer, a waiter in a restaurant, a small child or older woman - everybody is capable of changing our lives in some way.

We have just got to be willing to listen.