One of my closest friends wrote a Facebook post about how he was touched by the sight of teachers waving and smiling at their students to encourage them before they sat a national exam. Someone responded that students did not need teachers to cheer them on and that we should raise survivors and not a strawberry generation.
I thought about the exchange of words. For sometime, I have been observing the parenting styles of people around me. It seems that children with fiercer parents tended to be more resilient and obey more readily. Similarly, students of sterner teachers seemed to hand in their work more regularly. However, I personally feel happier working when my superior is more encouraging versus one who is demanding and not empathising.
I decided to delve into the Bible to see what it says since I wanted to know if the stance I have taken as a parent and teacher has been biblical. I found these:
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess 5 :11
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Heb 10 : 24
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4 : 29
To be balanced, sinners were often warned and admonished.
Incidentally, J had a relief teacher at his music class recently. It was the first time I met the relief teacher and the moment she saw J walking towards me after the class, she gave a thumbs up and said J had a good ear for music. This was a refreshing change from the almost-weekly complaints that J had to practise his pieces more. I had a chat with J about the teacher's compliment and he matter-of-factly replied that the teacher only said good things about all of them. He added that after each piece, the teacher would tell them how they could improve. With the teacher's affirmation, I could remind J that he had a God-given gift of music and that he should continue to hone it through practising. This is in contrast to saying "Your teacher said you need to practise more." With the relief teacher's non-disparaging feedback after they had played, the students could work on their areas of weakness. (I should add that the usual teacher is dedicated. I am just contrasting the two teaching styles since it seemed relevant to what I am writing.)
I am reminded to be encouraging and to give constructive feedback to my children and students and to be careful not to put them down or crush their spirits, yet not overly smother them with only sweet talk.