A Classroom Critique
Nearing completion of writing class prompted me to share with you a recent incident involving a critique.
Usually at the end of class each student is given to read several works by fellow students. When we meet again we are expected to share out loud our critiques then return the written work along with our notes to the author.
Let me remind you that this is an adult class with students ages 20 to 70+ not all of whom share English as a first language. In fact one woman in particular, recently arrived from Norway, took the class with the idea of improving her minimal English skills. So it happened, that when I began to read a particularly difficult piece, I believed it to be hers.
My first disgrace is that I have only learned a few of my fellow student’s names and so as I read the poorly constructed sentences and improperly used words – the author’s lack for an understanding of english – my mind went immediately to our foreign student. This gave me incentive to push through the nearly unreadable 1000 words and even to re-read for corrections and notes that I thought would be helpful.
With this in mind, I returned to class ready to present my critique, confidant in what I would say – believing it would benefit her. Imagine my surprise, when the time came to give my critique, to discover the author was not the person I believed it to be. Here I had prepared a critique for a person who knew they lacked basic skills and was prepared to receive extensive and critical review – not a person just embarking on an exploration of his own abilities.
CRAP! What do I do!?
Too late to back out – I had made known my knowledge of the paper before discovering its author – I had no other choice but to deliver what I had written.
That young man just sat there intently listening – face smiling – while I nuked his story.
At the end of it all I returned to him the ink-stained piece along with an apology for my harsh words. His look was one of smiling surprise and gratitude.
Or was it?
Had I misread the look of stark shock, shame and utter embarrassment?
I have one more class left before the session ends. Let’s see if I can keep from stomping on anymore dreams.
Until tomorrow, Write On!
~ K. L. Parry