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Motivating the sports jock


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon May 12 2003 - 11:22:10 PDT

Thanks Bill for helping out Renah - you made my day (more off list). Bill
brought to mind how I got "jocks" to work. Unfortunately the threat of poor
art grades didn't mean much. Too many kids, parents and administrators don't
give a hoot about what the art grade is (sad to say but true). I had the
most fun getting athletes to work when it was during their sport season. I
went to the coaches. If the student was not working in my class he (yes -
always the he not the she) had to stay after school to do the work. The
coach wouldn't let them come to practice until they had done what they had
to do for me. We had a great coaching staff! Try this - it worked for
me -and was a lot of fun. I got to really know my students - and got to give
them some one on one instruction which is really what some of them need.
They are so successful in sports - but lack the confidence in our class.

Judy - Ohio read on to see what Bill has to say. (folks I
am posting this for Bill - his post got bumped - besides, Bill knew I would
get you to look at his student work again)

Renah Bell -- and all (from Bill)

I have some high school students in my college classes in Drawing and
Design. Motivation is very simple for the athletes. They do the work and
either pass or fail. Chosen behaviors equate to chosen consequences,
either pass or they don't play. Younger students don't usually have the
ability of self motivation. The self-portrait I sent was done by a student.
She worked on the portrait a total of 25 hours. Most of the work was done
outside of class time. I don't think teachers need wear a TV on their
shoulders and are not required to entertain students. I tell my students
that I'm not here to entertain them, they're here to entertain me with their
ideas, thoughts their creations, your accomplishments in learning these new
skills... and to see the work that is born of my teaching to them. Robert
Henri said, "No matter how good a school is, his education is in his own
hands. All education must be self education". Students that don't read,
etc. are those who are unmotivated and are easily bored. I always give my
classes 2 rules: Avoid using the word "can't" and any form of the word
"bored". I tell them it's my opinion an easily bored person is usually a
boring person to be around. THERE ARE MANY SKILLS IN LIFE THAT ARE NOT
does not belong in the classroom, self-discipline does. I have had athletes
in my classes and usually had good luck with them. When I taught in Wyoming
many years ago John Johnson (played in the NBA) worked hard as he had goals.
Students don't rise to low expectations, do they? There is no such thing as
fast food art. Students today want instant gratification, instant success.
Student attention spans grow shorter and shorter. Everything seems to be
abbreviated -- mini classes, workshops, books are kept to below 100 pages
for children. The classics seem to me to be on the average 300 pages. We
need to eliminate the word "boring " and replace it with words or actions
like "I am challenged to do better" add the rest. I let the
students know that their grades (grades are a way of letting them know where
they stand in the scheme of things) are not negotiable and that they must
earn their grade through hard work, completing their work on time and attend
class. One doesn't have too make pretenses today, if one doesn't like
Mozart, don't listen, if Art isn't for them there are other creative classes
in the Fine Arts they can take. I have taught at the college level for 34
years and want the students know that I'm excited when they do well (or give
it their best shot) in any class. Students will respect your knowledge and
skills, so don't try and teach what you don't know or can't do yourself.
Teach, don't give projects. Teach art theories and principles. There can
be no growth without freedom. After the student has acquired skill let them
go. Students will respect that. Many times I don't know if the student
doesn't know or the can't "see". Either way it's my job to teach them. The
students seem to feed off the enthusiasm and knowledge of the instructor.
Keep teaching and doing Art, the best is still in you.

Bill Merrill
Judy Decker - Ohio
Incredible Art Department