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To be critical is, in everyday conversation, to be a bit anti-social, to be looking for disagreement, to be hard to please. Yet learning how to criticise is the bedrock foundation of education and one fundamental activity of thinking. It has, what is more, manifold forms. Far from being merely the habit of picking holes in things and of finding defects in everything, one may be no less critical in creatively imagining circumstances or conditions different from those which prevail, and then pointing out their advantages.

It is usual to counterpose creation to criticism. But when a poet is going through a first draft of a poem improving its rhythms or crossing out one image and substituting another, he or she is criticising and creating ...

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