Some people pick up an apple, see that it has a little bruise on it and throw it away because it’s a ‘bad apple’.
Other people pick up the same apple, see the little bruise, cut it off, and enjoy a delicious, juicy snack.
We all carry little bruises. And if we go looking for bruises in others, we’ll see them. And then we miss out on all the other wonderful bits that are beautiful and whole. What a waste!
Does this story sound familiar to you?
Jane is in Year 7 at school. She submits her assignment and feels good about the work she has done. But that night, her teacher reads the assignment and is taken aback. The following day, the teacher calls in Jane’s Head of Year, a very experienced educator, and requests a meeting with Jane’s parents. Jane’s parents come in for the meeting with the Head of Year, Jane, her teacher, and two other of Jane’s teachers who have been called in too.
Jane’s teacher welcomes the ‘committee’ that is now present and begins the meeting. “Jane, I think you probably know why we have gathered everyone today.”
Jane quietly nods.
“The piece of work you submitted yesterday is outstanding. It is not perfect, but, as you well know, that doesn’t matter to us at all. What does matter, is that it demonstrates a new level of creativity, insight, and passion that I haven’t seen in your work before. Although you have always worked hard and done very well at school, this is different. It is so important that we diagnose and understand exactly what went right. I know your parents and teachers are so keen to help you continue to realise and nurture your strengths and so we have formed this committee today to investigate your success fully. You need to know that I will be personally writing a report about these developments that will be sent to the principal and permanently recored on your student file. I am so proud to have the privilege of working with you as your teacher. Thank you Jane.”
How different schools would be if ‘feedback’ wasn’t primarily about fixing deficits.