Few of us are taught how to provide effective feedback when we’re dealing with an artistic creation.  In my classes, I do not allow the use of “good” or “bad” in a critique because nobody has any real, shared, sense of what those value judgments mean in the scheme of the overall community.


I ask all my students to use the term “effective” when discussing their thoughts and criticisms of any artistic endeavor —

“It was effective…”

and

“It was not effective…”

— both lead to exactly the same next word:  “Because.”

“Because” is a magic idea that immediately and innately provides reasoning and a rationale that can help the artistic heart gain insight into the mind of a critical, yet hopeful, audience.

“It was effective because…”

“It was not effective because…”

Outstanding conversations begin with those two sentences.  You begin to evaluate effectiveness with “Because.”

Students are initially uncomfortable using “effective” instead of “good” or “bad” because they’ve been taught to think only in precise opposites of “black” and “white” and “divine” and “evil” instead of wallowing in the grey in-between notions of “perhaps” and “maybe” and “if” — but in that non-judgmental horizon of “because” — we begin to open all minds to grander possibilities than just the dry “yes” and the dead “no.”

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