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"is this good enough?"

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From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Nov 19 2002 - 15:02:35 PST


Asking "is it good enough?" is what kids do. A kid's job is to please and to
find some satisfaction that what has been done pleases the authority. And
we should always find something that the kid has done that can be rewarded.

I always feel in between a rock and hard place. I'm in high school. I look
at kids everyday that have come through a system that "coddles" -- teams,
groups, the prevention of failure no matter what -- then they get to art
class and we ask them to think, to make personal expressions... and they
have hardly been asked to do that. And we have a adopted of system of
"standards" --proficiencies, masteries-- that some of us teaching haven't
mastered yet. And we forget the road of discovery.

I have no problem with "effort". I give tough problems to solve and I don't
care about any show of slick products. I care about thinking and oh boy is
that a hard one to evaluate.

I'm an old foggie , set in my old foggie ways. I feel like I deal with a
generation of parents and a generation of students that think just showing
up is good enough. I feel like I deal with an administration that extends
deadlines, modifies expectations, and avoids confrontation at any cost. I
personally think there is something to be learned from failure, but that is
not mainstream thinking. God forbid, I, in the art room should mess up
anybody's GPA. And WE are always wrong.

I'm tired of the whining parents more than I'm tired of the whining kids.
But I recognize the pressure these kids are under. Anybody read about the
Wall Street exec. that cheated to get his kid into the best preschool in
NYC? What do we expect from our kids when their lessons are "get around
it?"

All we can do is continue to hold to what we think are valuable lessons.
And maybe not fall victim to the spineless administrators that fear parents
and their lawyers.

Remember your own struggles with art and don't discount effort even if the
end result is less than your expectation. Remember what was difficult for
you in art. Remember that your "hand" in the product does not help with the
student's sense of accomplishment. Remember that most of who we teach have
a notion of what 'good" art is and feel they have no way to achieve that.
Most come with an attitude that they "can't", and remember that we do a
darn good job of showing them that they can.

Think about your expectations and think about your journey and think about
how you bring students to delight instead of standards. And remember many
are scared to death to ask for help 'cause they come from a place where
helplessness means failure. Art IS hard don't forget it. Show that you
celebrate those that try to make something (even though it may be less than
expected) show that trying is valued (even though it may be less than
expected).

Patty

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