Is there ever an age at which students no longer care what their teacher thinks about their work? My answer is no. I thought of this after reviewing the feedback filling the margins of a scene from my slowly evolving novel, which my instructor handed back to me this week.
The day after Valentine’s Day she walked into class carrying giant heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate truffles, and passed them around the room several times. She must have gotten a good deal on them, since giving a box of chocolates to one’s sweetheart the day after Valentine’s would be as inappropriate as going trick-or-treating the day after Halloween.
The instructor filled us with chocolates to put us in the proper mood to write a romantic scene. The alternative was to write a fight scene, which she assured us contained the same elements as a sensual scene. Hmm. From the critique I received, I’d say I’m not ready to write a romance novel. This scene seemed to cause more confusion and lead to more questions than any I’ve turned in so far. And that’s what got me thinking about whether there’s ever an upper age limit or a moratorium on disappointment over a school assignment that doesn’t make the grade.
I researched the topic this morning. Over coffee, a friend who’s been studying photography with the same teacher for years, and who’s about five years older than me, assured me she hadn’t yet reached the age where the kind of feedback she receives doesn’t matter. Later in the day, I asked my dental hygienist, who’s taking classes to become a registered hypnotist after she retires, and she, too, said that she cares a lot about what her teacher thinks of her work. I had lunch with a younger friend, a former colleague who is a nearly perpetual student, whom I didn’t need to ask, because I remembered that when we worked together she always let me know when a teacher praised her work and when she received an A grade.
With “lifelong learning” the buzzword for this era and with people of all ages taking classes on every subject imaginable, imagine the power all those teachers have to stir up our emotions. Let’s hope that we don’t all get negative feedback on the same day.