Activity 38: (Y)Our Critic’s Voice

As promised in my recent post, I will sharing my notes on ‘It’s in (Y)Our Hands‘ activities from time to time. For the activity, you can use a hand outline (yours, or the student’s) as a writing template, and a speaking follow-up. It can also work without the ‘hand’ just as well, I think.

So, who is the ‘Critic’ and what is his/her voice saying? I think you have heard the term ‘inner critic’ described as a part of our personality criticizing or diminishing what we are doing, or even ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I often hear this voice when I start something new. It gets especially loud if it is a ‘solo project’ of mine (e.g., planning a course, writing or organizing something, etc.) and it literally screams if this kind of project is more creative than work-related. As you may guess, this was the case with this blog, and even the ‘It’s in (Y)Our Hands’ activity series.

One thing I learned at a coaching session about Perfectionism is that we need to find ways to accept the Critic in our head, and (even!) to make friends with him/her. Having asked myself ‘What is the Critic (actually) saying?’ I started writing down what I ‘hear’, and actually thought it was fun. I would like to share the list with you:

  1. The idea is too simple, even obvious. It’s not serious to be doing this!
  2. The activities you are collecting need some research basis, which you don’t have.
  3. No-one needs it, especially now. 
  4. They are too ‘light’ (to the students, for example), and hold no intellectual challenge. Or any challenge. 
  5. No-one cares about drawing in the digital world.

These can be easily arranged into a ‘Hand’ template. One fun part can be finding a picture of ‘Your Critic’s’ hand, if you or your students are crating a digital template. I’d use something like this for mine:

Photo by Pixabay on

Having written the list, the idea to go through it, read it several times (someone said reading it out loud was helpful) and… accept it. Imagine someone has said it to you in person, or wrote a comment on Social Media. Can you imagine how you would feel? How you would react?

It may sound weird, but this exercise may be a small motivation to actually get started on your project. Why? Well, you have already ‘heard’ the worst criticisms you imagined, and it is likely that others won’t be as ‘creative’ or critical to your work as you are to yourself. Also, some of the ideas from the list can offer a wonderful learning opportunity: for example, I may actually search for some research supporting the use of creative metaphors/analogy for classroom activities (note: I am doing this!) or ask someone who draw better than me for help with quality template (note: there are many, many people who drew better than me!)

As a follow up, you may want to write some responses to the Critic’s ideas. This may work better in the classroom where students work in pairs, ‘switch’ the notes and ‘respond’ to the other person’s notes. It can still work for your own journaling. I won’t bore you with more details about mine, but will only mention which response surprised me: to #3 (‘no-one needs it’) I realized I was the one who needed it. Now, more than ever, with the war in Ukraine in progress, I need a creative outlet on my blog to jump to and ‘hide behind’, even for a very short time of creating this post.

I also recalled my plan to share a link to the people or organizations helping Ukrainians in different ways, especially in the context of culture, education, mental health support, etc. This time it is Mindly offering free mental health support for the people in Ukraine who have been affected by the war. There is more information on their website.

And the Critics… they are our friends as they can help us see where some more work is needed, what else is overseen, and how we can be learning while we are creating something. The key idea is that it ‘while’ we are creating and not instead.

Thank you for reading, and #StandWithUkraine!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
This entry was posted in It's in (Y)Our Hands and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Activity 38: (Y)Our Critic’s Voice

  1. irynapylypchuk says:

    Thank you for a reflection opportunity. It actually helped me recall one conclusion I once came to: whatever you’re passionate about will be interesting to/needed by somebody else) (I guess it’s a response to the critic’s point #30).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zhenya says:

      Iryna, thank you for your prompt and kind comment! So true that some of our critics are much, much more ‘productive’ and have 30 points to share. A lot to write down, and no hands would be enough to reflect the lists.
      Hope you and your loved ones are safe these days. Having our families in different parts of Ukraine can be so tough now.
      Слава Україні!


  2. Svetlana Gavrilovic says:

    Hi Zhenya!
    Another great activity from you! Thanks! I just love the possibility of it being used for peer evaluation and self-evaluation (writing tasks come to my mind first). Once I try it with my students, you’ll be the first to know how it all went.

    Liked by 1 person

Eager to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s