Friday, February 5, 2016

Honest Appraisal

I taught an art class yesterday. The kids drew a leaping dolphin. I loved hearing several say, "This is the best dolphin I ever drew." At the end of the session, I told them we were now going to learn how to critique.
"What's that?" they asked.
"It is where you point out what the artist does that is wonderful, and something they could do to improve."

This is always risky with a new class. Kids can be cruel. However, I think it is important to learn how to judge others work in an encouraging manner that helps them to learn we all are imperfect. We all can grow and learn from each other. We should learn how to give and receive gracious critique.

I needn't have worried. I have a whole class of kind and gracious kids. They were eager to praise each other, and they were thoughtful in their appraisal of how each other could improve. No one's ego seemed to be so hanging in the balance that they crumpled when areas of improvement were pointed out. Each seemed pleased by the honest praise of their classmates.

This is how the world is supposed to work.

The parents had all drifted in, coming to pick up their children. I saw them lined along the back wall, nodding. The kids had excellent impressions of what was good, as well as sweet and gentle ways of expressing what could be improved. I wondered if the parents were also thinking: If only I could give and receive feedback so well. 

They were all smiling as they left. The critique had gone well. They were all feeling built up, encouraged. I collapsed afterwards. It is a two hour class, and it takes every ounce of my energy, but in a good way.

I had art teachers my whole life, private and in school. All of them encouraged me, and their guidance in improving was always gentle. I believed I could do anything. May I be that person now to others.

After all, it is the way God works. He is always reminding us how much He loves us, how we are created in His image for good works and for eternal relationship with Him. Think of that: the creator of the entire universe loves ME, and wants me to be with Him for all eternity.

He does not coddle us into believing we are perfect, and He is forever showing us how to improve. However, bottom line: He believes in us. He adores us. He is there for us. Always.

This morning, I checked on my books on Amazon, as I always do. Look at what I saw when I looked at my latest horse book (link here):

NUMBER ONE!!!!!! Now that's encouraging.


Psalm 103:11

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

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