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I am trying to understand a passage that I found in a JLPT N2 practice book. I will quote the passage bit by bit, giving my interpretation.

自分の考えに自信を持ち、これで良いのだと自分に言い聞かせるだけでは充分ではない。他の人の考えにも、肯定的な姿勢を取るようにしなくてはならない。どんなものでもその気になって探せば、必ずいいところがある。それを称揚する。

Just telling yourself that "it's enough to just be confident in your own ideas/thoughts" is not enough. You have to acknowledge others' ideas and thoughts as well. If you do this, then you will find some good aspects in everything, and you should praise those good aspects.

So far so good.

よくわからないときにも、ぶっつけに「さっぱりわかりませんね」などと水をかけるのは禁物である。「随分難しそうですが、でも、なんだか面白そうではありませんか」とやれば、同じことでも、受ける感じは全く違ってくる。

Even when you don't understand (what the other person is saying), you shouldn't just say "you totally lost me". On the other hand, if you say "This seems quite hard to understand, but it's quite interesting as well, isn't it?", then the impression the other person gets is totally different.

It's still kind of on-topic. It seems to continue talking about how to respect other people's thoughts and ideas. But then I see this:

すぐれた教育者、指導者などはどこか良いところを見つけて、そこへ道をつけておく。

Good educators and leaders will find some good aspects somewhere, and make a road towards it (?)

Why does it suddenly start talking about good educators and leaders. I suppose it's to give an example of "who acknowledge others' ideas and thoughts and find good aspects", a reference to the first excerpt.

"make a road towards it" is from Jisho.org. Apparently that's what 道をつける means... Feels kind of unnatural in English though.

What comes next completely blew my mind:

批評された側では、多少、けなされていても、褒められたところをよりどころにして希望をつなぎとめることができる。

On the side of being criticised, even if you are spoken ill of, you can more or less use the places where you are praised as support, and hold onto hope.

Suddenly what is the author talking about? That seems like nonsense. If you are being criticised, 褒められたところ wouldn't exist, would it? This sentence also doesn't connect well with what was being said. Why suddenly 批評された側では? The sentence feels very random and out of nowhere.

Question:

Where have I misunderstood the passage? Or is the passage supposed to be hard to understand? Maybe my tiny brain isn't powerful enough to understand such a philosophical passage?

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Why does it suddenly start talking about good educators and leaders.

Your understanding is correct. This "good educators and leaders" is working as an example of people who are good at giving compliments. 道をつけておく strikes me as an odd and unfamiliar expression to me, too, but I guess it means they are always thinking about how to eventually give compliments until the end of a conversation.

Why suddenly 批評された側では?

By saying 側, the author is explicitly signaling the switch of the viewpoint. The author has been talking from the 教育者/指導者's standpoint. Now the author is trying to rephrase the sentence from the other standpoint, i.e., the student/learner's standpoint.

If you are being criticised, 褒められたところ wouldn't exist, would it?

It says 多少けなされていても (Note that 多少 modifies けなされていても.). And we were talking about a good educator who never forgets to find good points and give compliments, right? "From the criticized one's point of view, even if you were put down to some degree, (good teachers don't fail to also praise you and) you can keep hope based on what has been praised."

  • I thought the first part is from the student/learner’s perspective. I mean the “When you don’t understand something, don’t say ‘you totally lost me’ but say...” part. No? My impression is that learners typically often don’t understand what more experienced people are saying. – Sweeper Aug 20 '18 at 20:30

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