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Re: [art_education] Wipe out


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Feb 08 2004 - 10:24:35 PST

I have only been following the conversation about "perfectionism" loosely
and hesitate to comment for fear of repeating.
(And I must say, when I saw the "Wipe-out" Woody subject line, I thought, oh
my, Woody has taken up surfing and moving to California instead of New
Mexico and listening to the Beach Boys)

I think Larry Seiler's latest post is a perfect argument on why we should
never "buy into" a particular method or theory. A well trained teacher
recognizes his/her own experiences, skills, limitations and beliefs. Whether
it's DBAE, VCAE, Choice-based, ---- there are all kinds of models for Best
Practices--- a well trained teacher picks and chooses what will work for
him/her. You know your community, you know your students, you know your
administrative requirements, and you know what you do best to get the
results you think are important for your kid's success. What works for
Larry doesn't work for me and vice versa. We all have stories of what we
get to work with. We all have stories of how we work with it. and we
all have stories of colleagues that may appear to abuse the process.

I guess my big concern is trying to reach some balance between visual vs.
cognitive perception. DBAE had it's purpose in trying to give the art ed
world some evidence that our process is cognitive and perhaps measurable,
but it seems to me that it has been so narrowly interpreted as to
historical basis that the avenues for exploring the real world, real time
visual "perceptioning" is somehow lost. I've been to too many Standards
workshops with presentations on what is excellent or less than... No one can
convince me that any child's perception is less than valid no matter what my
perception of excellence is.

As to "perfectionism" well, I don't care how many qualifiers you have on
your rubric doesn't it still come down to your opinion? All we can do is
set clear expectations . I just finished grading my Advanced class mid term
project. They all did the work, they all completed the project. Some are
exceptional, some need some work, all have valid ideas but maybe lack a
little effort----- perfect only 2 got less than an A and that is only
according to what was in my head as to perfectly fulfilling my expectations
And I always give the option to go back and rework according to the
suggestions from the class critique.

I was wondering this morning, while watching CBS Sunday Morning's story on
Pixar and the effect computer animation is having on Disney. I was
wondering about "perfect' when it comes to the computer arts. Most of us are
"babies" in the area of computer arts. Only the professionals that
understand all the intricacies and implications could ever come close to
offering a some perfect model. And, I was thinking, how does the computer
alter ideas of skills and happy accidents? Most of what kids do on the
computer is an "accident." They play with noise without truly
understanding the skills, they accidentally make selections at the touch to
the mouse, they don't truly know the selections, but they make some choices
based on some visual perception. How are we guiding those accidental,
immediate selections ? How are we teaching that changing something is only a
click away? And what's the perfect technique for that?

I think we are at some kind of crossroad in art ed. I think we have a lot of
thinking to do. I think we have to remember that art is a standard for
measuring a culture that art is the dialogue that survives the
centuries and I think we have to ease up a bit on what we suggest as
standards for our youth that perceive a bit differently. Find out what is
important for them and build your lessons around what they will respond to.
Does skill mean much if you don't know how to apply the skill? If our
society values according to skill then, I think , we have made some backward
strides. If we only produce for selling or for the uninformed aesthetic
then we have truly lost the intent of art making.

I commit to play PLAY if you don't play you don't have anywhere to go
but the standard. And as an AP teacher I am in a real quandary about
allowing the play time versus the exploration time and the skill time. The
time restraint almost requires that my voice predicts.

I worry about teacher direction versus teacher hand .

(Larry- I use crayons all the time with my AP kids and I think they love
the association with that time when they got to play)