I was talking to a friend the other day and he mentioned the concept of ‘feed-forward’. His wife had received an internal email from her faculty that concluded with a request for feedforward. Evidently good old feedback is deemed to be negative, even hostile at times.
Having never heard the term before I did a little research and found that according to JISC or Joint Information Systems Committee: “While feedback focuses on a student’s current performance, and may simply justify the grade awarded, feed forward looks ahead to subsequent assignments and offers constructive guidance on how to do better. A combination of both feedback and feed forward (sic) helps ensure that assessment has a developmental impact on learning”.
Kevin Kruse writes in Forbes “The time has come to stop giving feedback and start giving feedforward. We must become leaders of people not just managers of tasks. Feedforward Coaching has the power to turn everyday workers into engaged workplace super heroes, whose discretionary effort will drive extraordinary business results”.
Suffice to say I’m dubious. That could be because none of the experts can agree on how to spell it: feed-forward or feedforward or feed forward are all found. Sounds like six of one half a dozen of the other to me. And what would Jimi Hendrix have been without feedback? Of course, one must always put one’s best feed forward as well.
When I think of this apparent over-sensitivity to others, my mind travels back to when I worked as a student employee during university. The city I lived in hired numerous local students to cut grass, maintain tennis courts, tend flower beds, and umpteen other simple tasks. The general foreman was a real straight shooter, an honest, no-nonsense kind of man. He gave feedback – sometimes very loudly. He had the ability to, when confronted with someone who had done something not to his liking, ask the usually rhetorical question, Are you crazy? in such a manner that you wondered if you should be answering. He’d repeat the question, getting louder with each repetition until it was out of his system.
Why is back seen as negative to forward’s positive? “Get back from the burning building” can be a lifesaving statement. Playing a country song backwards means you get your wife back, your truck back, your dog back. All good things. Sir Mix-A-Lot’s hip-hop classic Baby Got Back is another testament to the positive nature of the word back.
What’s next? Throw down instead of throw up? I assume up to be upbeat and uplifting yet I find nothing positive about the act of vomiting. Not one of those to ease nausea by inducing vomiting, I would rather walk on hot coals than upchuck (downchuck?). Will we start hearing phrases such as Stop the car, Lenny’s gonna throw down or Look. the dog threw down on your sweater?
Push-ups should really be push-downs as the effort is exerted downward causing the body to rise from the floor, and believe me no amount of positive naming is going to make them any less miserable. Now chin-ups are on the right track.
I’m off to have some baby forward ribs; I’m sure I’d choke on baby-back ribs. Please feel free to leave feedback, sideways or forward below!