WriteAtHome Is More Like Voice Than Idol


We don’t watch a lot of television, but my family has enjoyed watching seasonal talent shows together. We were fans of American Idol for a while, but lost interest last year. This year, we started watching NBC’s The Voice, and we’ve decided we all like it better than Idol.

If you are not familiar with either show, the similarities outnumber the differences. They both seek to launch singing careers. They are competitive, working from hundreds of auditioners down to a final winner by the end of the season. They both do lots of up-close-and-personal portrayals of the competitors, encouraging viewers to make emotional investments in their favorite singers. And both shows feature celebrities.

The difference, however, is in the role of the celebrities. On American Idol, they serve as judges, evaluating performances and eliminating performers until the viewing audience takes over the elimination through live voting. Even then, however, the job of the celebrity panel is to critically assess performances. On The Voice it’s different. The stars on that show are primarily singing coaches, not judges. They select teams that compete against one another. They do evaluate singing performances in order to select their teams, but the tone of their assessments is always positive and encouraging. They never belittle or disparage the singers. They look for what’s excellent and, when necessary, suggest ways they can improve.

My wife and I were talking about this difference last night and how much we prefer the coaching approach on The Voice. The singing talent seems more pronounced on that show too, and we wondered how much that can be attributed to the nature of the panel. The coaches on the Voice do their best to help singers develop their talents. They are supportive and clearly pulling for them to succeed. The environment seems to calm nerves and bring out the best in the vocalists. This is unlike the tense, critical feel of American Idol.

If you know anything about WriteAtHome, you probably see where I’m going with this. WriteAtHome has always taken the approach of The Voice. Our writing coaches must do some criticism of student writing, but it is always done for the purpose of developing talent. Their job is not to judge writing, but to inspire writers. All the evaluation they do is simply a part of this coaching process. And as a result, student writers come to trust and appreciate, rather than fear, the feedback they get on their papers.

As a result of this nurturing approach, our students, like the singers on The Voice, thrive.

My family has decided to stick with the Voice and skip American Idol this season. And WriteAtHome is certainly going to stick to the same approach.


Your comments and questions are always welcome. Please leave your in the Reply section below.

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Merri Larsen
    Merri Larsen10-30-2013

    My family has experienced similar thoughts and insights regarding these two shows. As a child, I was taught to focus on the positive because it makes ‘a much better foundation.’ And indeed it does. That’s one reason I enjoy being a Write at Home coach. I can look for the positive and begin there.

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