I don't think we are doing art or artists any service if we project
preferrence to the idea that in order for art to be "fun" it must be easy.
What of the high road of some challenges being worthwhile? What of
contentment of seeing a difficult thing through? Why do olympic sports,
extreme skiing, heroics of the sort grab our attention to stay glued to the
For this reason, sports remain pinnacle in the system, because there many
feel students learn to face challenges head on. The kind of attention
excelling brings means the kids know beforehand its not going to be easy,
but they learn to look beyond. They look to see the "big deal" made of it,
and the rewards waiting to be given out. Coaches don't sit around and
worry about those that aren't willing to pay the price, but dedicate
themselves to the young people about to give 110%. Can you imagine a coach
not teaching an offensive play designed to win because it might intimidate
a few in trying to learn it? What about the great rewards for those that
What kind of potential are we setting our kids up to miss out on?
That is a question I ask of myself almost everyday.
It is easy to accomodate the special student, or others that one sees
trying but doing poorly if the grading is adjusted to put less emphasis on
the finished product itself.
As a painter and woodsculptor, I have learned that the secret to making
good art is to make lots of it, that is over many years. So...we have to
be satisfied seeing the sparks of potential.
Easy art is easy to grade...but, difficult challenges force us as educators
to be more in-tune with observing how the individual student imitates the
kind of effort it would take to develop. Thus...the brundt of my grading
for art falls upon "work ethic" that is how well the student disciplines
him/herself to focus on the task, and "social skills" which evaluates
respect, listening to directions, etc; A project for me is 40% of their
grade on a unit, the rest (60%) as I described. This gives EVERY
opportunity for a struggling student to earn a good grade from me. JUST
TRY....show me you are TRYING.
I have confessed to many of my students one-on-one that their work at THEIR
age is ten times better than my work at that very same age. I tell them
from there, all depends on their passion and commitment to face obstacles.
"If me...why not you?" I ask them. This conversation usually comes up at
a moment of their hesitating to receive a compliment because they fail to
see the years and years between my painting and theirs.
Some would assume because I am an artist that I will be a hard grader. I
actually have more empathy because of it. It took me many years. Who am I
to expect anything more from them? I reward effort. I evaluate
understanding even if in the end it remains more in their heads than what
their project demonstrates.
At least...some day, these students won't be standing before artists work
making some lame comment that it must be nice "having so much talent!"
They will have known the artist didn't come flying out of the womb with a
pencil in hand inspired to draw, but that it required hard work, passion
and commitment. That in the end, their priorities went another direction.
For me...that equates to art appreciation.
I do not as an artist feel appreciated when someone makes such a lame
comment about my talent. It is insulting that they are so far removed from
having any concept at all of some n'er heroics on my part when life
presented many escapes that instead I set my face like a flint to the wind
determined to grow....to learn, to become an artist.
What then is a challenge to me is knowing that everyone of these people
that know so little about art talent/giftings/skill no doubt at one time
had art in school. That for me is a wake up call, one that I take
serious...! I'm not saying there is not a single person here on this list
that is not serious or necessarily good at teaching art, but am saying we
have a crusade before us. A definite potential for impact upon our
culture...one life at a time. A call to excellence.
artist's site- http://cwinc.net/larryseiler
WetCanvas Artists page- (shorter and quicker loading)
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress
depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw
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