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So here we are confronted with the idea of producing something and then
having someone else pass judgement on it, and even compare it with
others, without perhaps, understanding all that went into it, or how far
you've come, or where you are going with it, etc etc etc etc.
On the highschool level, my main focus with students is for THEM to make
aesthetic judgements., make thesis statements and aim their work towards
those goals. Awards, certificates, recognition, etc, are byproducts, but
are not essential to those goals. Since we critique regularly, when we
go to Arts Festivals that have open critiques, my students find
themselves disappointed in what the 'critiquers' say to them, because on
the whole, these professionals are too 'nice', and are trying to 'spare'
their feelings, whereas my students tend to look for a new dialogue on
their work that hasn't been met by our regular critiques. When they do
get recognized, we all acknowledge that, through announcements, school
articles in papers etc, and we share in their recognition , but we also
know (or at least we 'try to know' as best as possible when you are 15,
16, 17 or 50), that those 'prizes' are for any given day at any given
moment, and that our work could be recognized at another time. The
satisfaction in making art is that we 'accomplished' what we set out to
I know this sounds kind of 'out there', but I also trained my
administration that I do not 'enter' contests with my students. (I do
post them, because at the high school level, students CAN make choice on
their own to enter....). Even on the yearbook level (which I advise), I
have our book critiqued, but do not blow my horn if we score high, but
use the critiques to further our education on what makes a better
yearbook. We do announce our scores, and give the administration the
necessary information, but we see it as a learning tool as compared to a
jewel in any temporary crown.