Be helpful, be specific, be kind

Picture credit:  Models of excellence

Picture credit: Models of excellence

At Toffee Hammer, we’re proud of working across a variety of different sectors. We share our diverse experience with clients – for example, bringing knowledge of industry to educational contexts and vice versa. This cross-pollination of ideas is also why we love working with our network of expert freelancers. We treat every project as unique and bring together the best talents and minds to create something truly original.

A teacher colleague recently brought to our attention this beautiful video that so perfectly explains the value of critique and feedback. It is also a wonderful example of ‘show and tell’ storytelling that involves the young audience and truly captures their imagination.

Uploaded by Tech Girls Are Superheroes on 2016-08-15.

The full story behind Austin’s Butterfly can be found here.

There are many things to learn from this case study. We love the fact that the children in Austin’s school are engaged in vocational projects – Austin’s First Grade butterfly project was inspired by a similar Kindergarten science and art project on endangered birds. In both instances, the children work towards creating products to sell (cards for charity): they are creating for a real-life audience, not just for the sake of passing a test or pleasing their teacher.

It is also a fantastic example of having a clear brief and success criteria. Austin’s goal was to create a colour, scientific illustration of a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, accurate enough to be used for identification. The children in the class had defined criteria on which to assess the quality of their work.

But, for us, the most important lesson to take from this project is to do with constructive criticism and learning from peers. Feedback is a hugely valuable part of any creative process – but can be de-moralising and detrimental to both team spirit and outcomes if mishandled. The children offering feedback to Austin on his butterfly had just three rules: Be helpful, be specific, be kind. We’ve adopted these rules for providing feedback at Toffee Hammer – and enjoy working with clients who offer feedback in the same way.