This is worth reviewing from time to time.
I’ve taken some notes from lectures to law students on how to learn while in law school and practicing attorneys doing continuing education. I’m posting excerpts from one of them, Theater Tips and Strategies for Jury Trials, by David Ball, Ph.D. These are excellent suggestions that apply to our students as well!
Often it is hard to accept in-class criticism of your work without becoming self-conscious or defensive. Relax! Listen to what is being said, even if you are angered or embarrassed by it or think it is wrong. There is always something to be learned. If you start explaining or defending what you did, or wishing the instructor would shut up and leave you alone, you will miss it.
You are paying to learn, not to maintain your dignity or argue with the instructor or classmates. So detach your ego and listen dispassionately to your critique. If necessary, pretend to yourself that the critique is about someone else so that you can listen without ego or pride.
If you think it is a useful critique, say thank you and try it.
If it is 100 percent useless, say thank you and try it.
Demonstrate to your instructors that you are hungry for as much criticism as they have to offer. If you make them think you cannot or will not take it, they will probably go easy on you—and that is a disaster. You want them to be hard on you so that you can learn as much as possible.
Excellent instructors don’t care whether you can argue with them about the critique. They DO care whether you demonstrate your understanding of their critiques BY THE WAY YOU PERFORM THE NEXT TIME. So, learn to accept critiques WITHOUT SHUTTING DOWN OR ARGUING. If your instructor rips apart something you do in class, don’t turn groveling, deferential, defensive, or closed off. Stay professional. Remember that the teacher’s JOB is to tear you apart—or at least tell you what you did wrong or ineffectively, and how to do it better. AND YOUR JOB IS TO LEARN FROM IT. So just do your job.
Not every useful instructor is diplomatic. Not every useful instructor knows how to be gentle. Not every useful instructor is skilled at making strong criticisms without hurting your feelings. Learn from that instructor anyway! Sometimes this can be hard: “That was the worst thing I have seen since the LAST thing I saw you do!" is not quite the response you were hoping for. But it might be followed by excellent advice.
Conversely, some instructors are so afraid of hurting your feelings that they won’t tell you what they think you should know. Make clear to them that your feelings are less important than your improvement.
[Note from Linda: Our instructors are not afraid to tell you what you need to improve. That’s what they are paid to do. If they didn’t do it, I wouldn’t have them here. So, LEARN FROM EACH INSTRUCTOR! They each have different teaching styles. I call that “Saturation training” and I believe in it. It works.]