Tonight I finally saw Whiplash, the movie about a teen drummer with a relentless and abusive teacher. First off, I’d recommend it to everyone. JK Simmons was a worthy Oscar winner as the monstrous mentor.

More importantly, it made me question the value of critical feedback. I often wonder if I would have become a better drummer if my teachers had pushed me more. I quit playing at 18 after I grew discouraged that others were far better than me, but I think I could have equal them had I practiced more and better

Likewise, the searing criticism I received in my MFA program made me improve my writing. Without that, I doubt I would have a book deal today.

So are tough teachers necessary to success? And should I apply that to my own teaching career?