Honest corrections and opinions lead to better results

To the Editor:

Imagine you’re a 12-year-old girl. It’s 8 o'clock on a Wednesday night and you’re at a dance studio, standing next to six other girls dressed in similarly-colored neon spandex short-shorts and sports bras.

You’ve been at dance since 3 o’clock that afternoon and are exhausted. When you first arrived at dance, you stood in a line with the other girls and looked at a picture of yourself taped to a wall mirror. This picture was in a pyramid of the other girls’ pictures.

These pictures tell you what your teacher thought of your performance at last week’s dance competition. There are four pictures in the bottom row (the girls who did the worst at competition or did something to get the teacher mad), two in the second row (the people who didn’t mess up or did a good job), and one picture on the top of the pyramid (the dancer who shone and sparkled the most at competition).

If you’re on top of the pyramid, you are beaming and excited. Your teacher smiles at you and says, “You did it (your name).”

She’s strict and hard to please so even this little compliment makes your whole week.

When you’re on the bottom, she says, “I gave you a solo and the best you can do is second. Really? What a disappointment.”

You know you’ll have to work harder than ever to make your way back up the pyramid.

If you’re a fan of reality TV, you may know that this scenario is a typical episode of Dance Moms. This arrangement on the wall mirror is called the pyramid. The teacher’s name is Abby Lee Miller and many would describe her method of teaching — screaming at kids, being honest no matter what the emotional consequences are for the kids — as completely crazy.

I would have to say that her methods are not crazy. Well, at least not completely. Sure, screaming at kids and telling them that they’re stupid is a little bit overboard but I think that the sentiment of being honest with kids or people in general is a good idea.

Abby does know what she’s doing because her “crazy” teaching methods have made her students some of the most successful in the world. People pay Abby $300 to $700 a month (bust out your calculator and you’ll see that’s almost 9,000 bucks a year) to make their kids into winners. Perhaps this means that, if you want to be successful, coddling won’t get you anywhere.

I mean, if your dance teacher is afraid to tell you that your turns look sloppy because she thinks it will hurt your feelings, how do you know someone else will tell you?

If your French teacher doesn’t tell you that you’re pronouncing all your bonbons as buns, how are you supposed to pass your oral exam? Honest corrections and opinions lead to better results.

I also take dance, but at a very different studio than Abby Lee Miller’s. I go to a school that’s mostly for ballet, where we wear leotards and tights instead of spankies and sports bras.

There’s absolutely no pyramid, but nevertheless you get a pretty good idea of who’s on top. If there were a pyramid in my class, I could see myself moving up as I improved throughout the course of the year.

That’s the good thing about the pyramid; nobody can always be the worst, the least favorite in the class, because everybody has good weeks and bad weeks. Likewise, every single girl on Abby’s team has been on top of the pyramid at one point or another.

Perhaps that feeling of being on top, of being the best, of being the biggest star, can outweigh the infrequent feelings of disappointment you get when you’re at the bottom of the pyramid.

Other people may say that being too honest can hurt people’s feelings or self-esteem, but sometimes being broken down can be the right motivation to build yourself back up.

If somebody says that you are bad at math, maybe proving them wrong can be the incentive to study hard and practice more. Also, I’m not saying that you should go around telling everyone that bugs you that they are disgusting and worthless. I’m talking more about constructive, candid criticisms that can help people to improve themselves.

Why not be ingenuous and honest? Isn’t it better to know what people think about you than to assume something that might not be true, for better or for worse?

I think being a bona-fide, white-lie-free society will benefit people by making them more prepared, honest, and successful in a multitude of ways. Join me by telling people the truth and see how much it benefits you. Isn’t it better to know?

Ella Davidson