Daily Archives: March 18, 2007

The fear of writing critical reviews

Professor Tamanaha posted an interesting blog entry in which he admits having become a coward: he no longer wants to write negative reviews of books.

Tamanaha seems to have made his mind up, but I am still deliberating what my own stance is going to be. I always tell my students that their grades does not represent their worth as persons but the message rarely seems to register. Critical comments meant to point out ways to improve are taken as personal attacks. A similar kind of problematic occurs in relationships with colleagues and those standing higher in the academic hierarchy (yes, they also make mistakes sometimes).

Contrarily to what some of the comments on Prof. Tamanaha suggest, this problem is not only present in academia. I’ve had experience in the technological sector and my wife manages an IT group. It’s been our experience that this kind of fear of providing critical comments is also quite present there.