Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Find Lesson Plans on! GettyGames

Re: Is This Good Enough?


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Nov 24 2002 - 18:25:17 PST

My grades are broken down as 45% "Work Ethic" ...40% "Projects" ...and 15%

For my elementary its 55% "Work Ethic" and 45% "Social Skills"...
now, a lot goes into that word "work ethic"...and in my way of thinking, if
kids demonstrate a work ethic whereby they use their period in focused
effort, their work will also reflect that habit...on the other hand, poor
use of time, self-management, discipline and their work suffers.

Believing art in a k-12 environment to progress accumulatively, I put focus
on how class time is spent. By the time they reach middle school...or
junior high, the "Social Skills" is replaced with "projects" and
"sketchbooks" I have worked to groom an attitude toward

The "Social Skills" looks at respect for each other, respect for the
teacher, respect for themselves.

Putting emphasis on work ethic, allows the average student or the student
whom believes they have average to poor artistic set their
goals on no lower than a "B"...and possibly an "A"...on the other hand, it
tells the kid who thinks they are God's gift to art...that if they put out
little and expect much just because their project appears superior to
others...they can get a "C" or worse. Its all about how they use time in
the classroom.

My own basis for those conclusions is my being an artist, and that my
observation with even professional artists learning is that it takes (for
example) 120 bad paintings to learn something about painting. Its a
progressive evolution. Thus, I harbor empathy and respond more like a
cheerleader. I welcome the struggle, and in the name of art appreciation
want them to note and respect what is found to be difficult. This
"struggle" gives them insight for what to become excellent would require,
and thus they are equipped for life to see the work of artists and declare
their appreciation.

We finished a pointalism project not too long ago for advanced high school
students, as well as scratchboard, a couple projects that stretched patience
and defined "work ethic" to the tee...then looked at these two artist's
posts of work to see where the art form could be taken-

here was my pointalism example to begin with (which I am not yet finished
*note- highlight and copy ALL of the following and paste into your browser's
subject header and hit enter)

then this wonderful snow leopard by an Australian artist that blew the
students away. BTW, their comments alone was evaluation enough for me that
they had experienced enough struggle and triumph to appreciate this artist's

then, check out this artist's amazing scratchboard work! He is disabled,
and turned to art for his own pursuit of meaning. Self-taught and working
only a few years-
A ram and scroll down to see a wonderful Ocelot-

as for the comment students have on if something is "good enough?" I'll
tell 'em to turn it in, and I pencil in on the back a "D"....for which after
they get it back they freak. I'll act surprised, and say "Wwwhat? Isn't a
D 'good enough?" I tell 'em I thought a "D" was a good enough grade for a
good enough effort.

Then, I give them the option to erase it...and continue working reminding
them that their work "ethic" is what I'm rewarding most.

For kids that might otherwise be paralyzed with fear over a difficult
project, knowing they will be rewarded for effort or "ethic" gives them an
immediate understanding that they aren't so much judged for how it turns out
as to how much they try. The paradox they realize in the process is that
how it turns out is proportionately connected to time and effort put in. I
often hear kids remark with surprise that their work isn't turning out too

If a parent comes in...not happy with grades, its much easier to win them
over knowing it is how time spent in the classroom has precedent over their
kid being talented or not. I had to develop this method especially, because
as an artist I would be accused of expecting kids to "be as good as I
was...." which was pretty foolish. I have more respect for the years of my
own development than that. How time is spent though, correlates to output
and if the work is mediocre or excellent.

Larry S.