Friday, February 3, 2012
There are some instances where people are obviously doing something wrong and it's okay to tell them.
If you go to a buffet for lunch and then still need to eat dinner, you're doing it wrong.
If you go to the gym every day and get fatter and weaker, you're doing it wrong.
If you look at a couple of presidential candidates and think they're both just too awesome, you're doing it wrong.
These are simple. These are things that, given time and perspective, intelligent people can figure out for themselves. (See how I had to qualify that sentence? Sheesh.)
But we like to point out when people are wrong. It makes us feel right, somehow. Or validated, at least.
I sat in a meeting once as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Wichita State, and the new head of the writing program encouraged us to not use red pens while grading undergrad papers. He said, "It makes them feel like they're wrong." To which I responded, "But they are wrong."
I don't like using the word "wrong" with kids unless it's about behavior, like hitting or spitting or dangling a Barbie doll by the ankle and using it as a pinata. (Everyone knows to string her up by the neck.) When a kid is trying to figure something out, the word "wrong" makes them think they're, well, wrong. ''
Putting the shoe on the wrong foot? Putting pants on backwards? Using a fork for soup? Coat on upside down? These aren't inherently wrong. And I think it's best to point out that there are better ways of doing things. This gets the kids thinking about their own behavior and choices, instead of shaming them into being like everyone else.
Because who doesn't need a little bit of this every now and then?: