Fragile Egos

fragile-ego

Objective

According to Fenwick and Parsons, in The Art of Evaluation, “adults have rather fragile egos.” (p. 19).  Fenwick and Parsons go on to discuss the fact that “we protect our self-esteem and tend to instinctively respond to criticism by being defensive.  Protective walls go up when we feel attacks on our sense of self and our feeling of control.” (2009, p. 19).

In the article “The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But…” Dr. Leon Seltzer, a clinical psychologist, appears to agree with Fenwick and Parsons and further elaborates on the self-protective methods of adults by stating that

it’s a challenge to avoid feeling defensive when we experience ourselves as attacked. At such times, it’s more “natural”–or rather, more aligned with our conditioning–to go into self-protective mode. And typically, the way we choose to protect ourselves is through denying the criticism, indignantly turning on the criticizer, or hastening to disengage from the uncomfortable situation entirely.  (2011, para. 1).

Reflective

While contemplating this concept I find myself torn between agreeing and disagreeing with the statement made by Fenwick and Parsons that “adults have rather fragile egos”. While some adults may suffer from fragile egos there are many adults whose egos are not affected as readily.  So why is it that some adults have fragile egos while others do not?  I believe the reasons stem from how an individual perceives the thoughts of others.  Someone who does not pay much credit to the thoughts of others, and is narcissistic, is less likely to have a fragile ego than a person who suffers from self-hatred and holds other’s opinions high above their own.

I do agree with Fenwick and Parsons that it is a natural human response to protect our self-esteem; I, however, do not agree that adults “instinctively respond to criticism by being defensive”. (2009, p.19).  Adults respond to criticism in a variety of ways and I believe that their response is dependent upon the way in which the criticism is delivered as well as how they have learned to deal with criticism in the past.  If criticism is offered in a constructive manner, and the receiving individual is open to the criticism, I believe that the experience can actually be a positive one as opposed to being something negative.  There are plenty of individuals who openly accept criticism from others, as long as it is offered in a constructive manner, as these people often see it as a way to improve not only their work but themselves.

Interpretive

As an educator it is necessary to engage in evaluation of the individuals that we teach, thereby providing students with feedback/criticism on the work they have done.  “Evaluation provides critical feedback that we all know is essential to the learning process”. (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, p. 3).  Evaluation may occur in the form of an objective evaluation, such as a written exam, or may be done through subjective means, such as an exit interview. Regardless of the type of evaluation tool used it is important that the feedback the student receives is constructive, clear and timely.

Constructive criticism can be very meaningful to the person receiving it, however, if evaluation and feedback is not offered in a beneficial way it can have a significant impact on that person.  If a student receives effective feedback they are more likely to acknowledge the feedback, make changes in their future work, and be more open to the evaluation process as a whole.  If the student, however, receives feedback that is delivered in a demeaning, negative, or hurtful manner it could have a serious impact on the way in which they receive feedback in the future.  The student would likely be less open to the evaluation process, may in fact get defensive and put up the protective walls which Fenwick and Parsons talk about.  It is, therefore, imperative that educators understand that each of their students may deal with evaluation differently and that their past experiences can play a significant role in this process.

Decisional

The evaluation process is difficult and takes time and practice, on the educators’ part, in order to become good at it.  A lot of hard work and dedication goes into evaluating students and I don’t think that it is a skill that is developed overnight.  According to Brookhart, in How to Give Effect Feedback to Your Students, “giving good feedback is one of the skills that teachers need to master”. (2008, p. 1).  I wholeheartedly believe that this is true because if a teacher does not master the skill of providing good feedback it can negatively affect the students’ ability to effectively learn from them.

In the past I have focused on ensuring that the feedback that I provide to my students be meaningful and useful to them.  I have always attempted to provide this feedback in a positive manner, knowing that receiving feedback can sometimes be a negative experience for students.  The readings and research I have done have made me more aware of the importance of effective feedback and the need to ensure that it is delivered in the right context at the right time.  Going forward I will be more cognizant when providing my students with their evaluations and feedback and be mindful of how their past experiences may affect the way in which they receive the feedback.

Through reflecting on the evaluation and feedback process I have come to realize just how important this process can be.  I always knew that evaluation and feedback were an integral part of teaching and learning, however, the new information I have read and reflected upon has brought about deeper insight.  I am now more aware how important it is to be very cognizant of the feedback that I provide to my students.  It is imperative that I am putting the necessary time and effort into each and every students’ feedback.   In the future I believe that it is also necessary for me to continually be assessing the feedback that I am providing to my students as this will ensure that it continues to be positive, constructive and effective.

Objective

According to Fenwick and Parsons, in The Art of Evaluation, “adults have rather fragile egos.” (p. 19).  Fenwick and Parsons go on to discuss the fact that “we protect our self-esteem and tend to instinctively respond to criticism by being defensive.  Protective walls go up when we feel attacks on our sense of self and our feeling of control.” (2009, p. 19).

In the article “The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But…” Dr. Leon Seltzer, a clinical psychologist, appears to agree with Fenwick and Parsons and further elaborates on the self-protective methods of adults by stating that

it’s a challenge to avoid feeling defensive when we experience ourselves as attacked. At such times, it’s more “natural”–or rather, more aligned with our conditioning–to go into self-protective mode. And typically, the way we choose to protect ourselves is through denying the criticism, indignantly turning on the criticizer, or hastening to disengage from the uncomfortable situation entirely.  (2011, para. 1).

Reflective

While contemplating this concept I find myself torn between agreeing and disagreeing with the statement made by Fenwick and Parsons that “adults have rather fragile egos”. While some adults may suffer from fragile egos there are many adults whose egos are not affected as readily.  So why is it that some adults have fragile egos while others do not?  I believe the reasons stem from how an individual perceives the thoughts of others.  Someone who does not pay much credit to the thoughts of others, and is narcissistic, is less likely to have a fragile ego than a person who suffers from self-hatred and holds other’s opinions high above their own.

I do agree with Fenwick and Parsons that it is a natural human response to protect our self-esteem; I, however, do not agree that adults “instinctively respond to criticism by being defensive”. (2009, p.19).  Adults respond to criticism in a variety of ways and I believe that their response is dependent upon the way in which the criticism is delivered as well as how they have learned to deal with criticism in the past.  If criticism is offered in a constructive manner, and the receiving individual is open to the criticism, I believe that the experience can actually be a positive one as opposed to being something negative.  There are plenty of individuals who openly accept criticism from others, as long as it is offered in a constructive manner, as these people often see it as a way to improve not only their work but themselves.

Interpretive

As an educator it is necessary to engage in evaluation of the individuals that we teach, thereby providing students with feedback/criticism on the work they have done.  “Evaluation provides critical feedback that we all know is essential to the learning process”. (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, p. 3).  Evaluation may occur in the form of an objective evaluation, such as a written exam, or may be done through subjective means, such as an exit interview. Regardless of the type of evaluation tool used it is important that the feedback the student receives is constructive, clear and timely.

Constructive criticism can be very meaningful to the person receiving it, however, if evaluation and feedback is not offered in a beneficial way it can have a significant impact on that person.  If a student receives effective feedback they are more likely to acknowledge the feedback, make changes in their future work, and be more open to the evaluation process as a whole.  If the student, however, receives feedback that is delivered in a demeaning, negative, or hurtful manner it could have a serious impact on the way in which they receive feedback in the future.  The student would likely be less open to the evaluation process, may in fact get defensive and put up the protective walls which Fenwick and Parsons talk about.  It is, therefore, imperative that educators understand that each of their students may deal with evaluation differently and that their past experiences can play a significant role in this process.

Decisional

The evaluation process is difficult and takes time and practice, on the educators’ part, in order to become good at it.  A lot of hard work and dedication goes into evaluating students and I don’t think that it is a skill that is developed overnight.  According to Brookhart, in How to Give Effect Feedback to Your Students, “giving good feedback is one of the skills that teachers need to master”. (2008, p. 1).  I wholeheartedly believe that this is true because if a teacher does not master the skill of providing good feedback it can negatively affect the students’ ability to effectively learn from them.

In the past I have focused on ensuring that the feedback that I provide to my students be meaningful and useful to them.  I have always attempted to provide this feedback in a positive manner, knowing that receiving feedback can sometimes be a negative experience for students.  The readings and research I have done have made me more aware of the importance of effective feedback and the need to ensure that it is delivered in the right context at the right time.  Going forward I will be more cognizant when providing my students with their evaluations and feedback and be mindful of how their past experiences may affect the way in which they receive the feedback.

Through reflecting on the evaluation and feedback process I have come to realize just how important this process can be.  I always knew that evaluation and feedback were an integral part of teaching and learning, however, the new information I have read and reflected upon has brought about deeper insight.  I am now more aware how important it is to be very cognizant of the feedback that I provide to my students.  It is imperative that I am putting the necessary time and effort into each and every students’ feedback.   In the future I believe that it is also necessary for me to continually be assessing the feedback that I am providing to my students as this will ensure that it continues to be positive, constructive and effective.

 

References

Brookhart, S. (2008). How to give effect feedback to your students.  Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nKks5TlC_zEC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=effec tive+feedback&ots=kZZUoxVG2T&sig=hYT80tu4BsdYgJflBvjtOaAMH9A#v=onepage&q=e ffective%20feedback&f=false

Fenwick, T. & Parsons, J. (2009). The art of evaluation: A resource for educators and trainers,      second edition.  Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.

Seltzer, L.  (2011). The narcissist’s dilemma: They can dish it out, but…. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201110/the-narcissists dilemma-they-can-dish-it-out