Don Rags

A few weeks ago, I moved my second daughter into her college dorm.  She decided to attend a school on the west coast, a school she had wanted to attend since middle school.  I too had wanted to attend this same school since middle school, so it was an exciting trip for both of us.

As part of the freshman orientation process, parents were required to attend an orientation.  We were given the history of the school, a full tour, rules and expectations of the students, and some insight into what the students would experience, among other things.

One practice each student experienced twice a year is called Don Rags.  The student walks into a room and sits at the end of a long table.  At the other end of the table are seated their six tutors.  The tutors then begin to openly and frankly discuss the student’s performance in class, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses amongst themselves.  The student is never a participant in this conversation, their role is simply to overhear the conversation, take to heart what is said, and to take any action necessary.

Our guide, an alumnus, had an interesting take of the practice.  He said it was a bit like going to confession with six priests who told you what you did wrong and offered no absolution.  He was quick to say that though it could be a stressful experience, it was also a powerfully helpful one.  The student received unfiltered feedback and was not required (or even allowed) to put up a defense, only take the feedback and use it to improve themselves.  The name of the practice speaks of the humility required by the student-to don (put on) rags-in search of wisdom.

As we were exiting the room, I couldn’t help but think how great it would be to have the gift of a Don Rags session.  A session where I would be able to sit and overhear people much wiser than I discuss frankly and objectively my performance as a father, husband, friend, employee, manager, etc., and not be able to argue or make any excuses.  I’m sure it would be stressful, and I’m sure painful, but ultimately what a powerfully helpful experience it would be.

One comment

  1. Timshel says:

    Fascinating idea. I thought for a moment that the Junto could serve this purpose for its members…but that assumes the wisdom of the group. It could just as quickly turn to this, I supposed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JR6xt9S02o.

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