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Risk taking & sandbaggers


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Mar 02 2004 - 11:57:12 PST

A couple weeks ago Linda Woods told a great story about a jewelry
student in an AP class that had been particularly capable risk taker,
but never was able to complete anything. Could this have been a
unique special needs student? How many other students suffer from a
milder form of fear of finishing?

One of the characteristics of successful highly creative people is
that they do have many unfinished tasks. However, part of being
creativity is the ability to complete an acceptable number of tasks
even when they are less than perfect. Finishing is a scary thing,
but truly creative people have learned the benefits of taking the
risk to finish.

How have we learned to take this risk of finishing things that are
not yet perfect? I have learned that I can finish artwork because I
know there is another chance to make improvements and corrections. I
can keep doing it again. Are some students unable to make this
rationalization? Do we need to look harder for ways help them learn
that art, unlike some things in life, does offer another chance. Is
not art the metaphor for life that allows us to imagine any life
event (to test it) in order to see it better before ultimately
risking our lives.

In a few cases this working insight requires more therapy than an art
teacher can be expected to do. In other cases the student may simply
need some encouragement or a bit of special explanation about the
benefits of finishing and the dire consequences of procrastination.
Maybe we need teach in ways that make clear that finishing is not
really finishing. I see every artwork as the sketch for my next
work. Yet no creative work is totally based on its own sketch. Art
is journey - not a destination.

What works for you to help sandbaggers who have this unreasonable
fear of failure? They are good artists, hard workers, but spend so
much time in preparation that they never get things done on time.
Marvin Bartel