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> What I found seriously perplexing in this situation was
>that in studio, the critiques were often brutal and the implication was
>clear that the teachers were only doing their job in separtating the wheat
>from the chaff. I think they felt that it was kinder to cull the weak early
>on, so that they would not have to suffer failure in the hard cold art
>world out there.
After following the "crit thread" for a while, I would like to throw in my 2
Some of us have come to teaching in the lower grades of public education
rather late in life. In my case, (after military service and 20+ years
working as an artist/craftsperson while moonlighting as an adjunct college
and craft school instructor). Prior to that, I worked on a B.F.A. in the
late 60s, a M.A. in the early 70s and an M.F.A. in the late 70s.
In those student years I had no intention of taking college education or
art education courses. I had no plan for teaching below the college or
adult educational level in art. After talking to Art Ed. majors in those
years, I was sure that I was making the right decision. The majority of the
education courses which were required outside of Art were reportedly
directed to the more traditional curriculum of elementary, middle and high
school and other matters of educational research and record keeping. Those
individuals who were taking the required education and art education courses
were giving up valuable studio time. They were giving up the additional
possibilities of working on advanced creative projects and experiencing the
particular kinds of singular personal growth as creative individuals could
only come from long intense days in studio production. We had choices to
make. We could not "have the cake and eat it too." I saw it as a trade-off
. Those who gained the educational certification for the lower grades were
forced by money, by time and by the War to give up an intensity of growth as
a creative person. In return, they gained a little sense of security which
would come from a better chance at a job with a steady income.
In those years I also realized that many of the students who did end up in
some of the rather brutal and honest critique sessions did not appear to
have a clue as to some of the issues which were being evaluated. Some of the
participants had not developed the experience and the personal commitment.
They knew notning of the lonely search for significant form or personal
content (meaning) in their creative efforts. Others in the sessions seemed
to have their hands full just trying to deal with the vocabulary which was
used to communicate about formal concerns. In the first years of
undergraduate school, I was certainly one of those who must have appeared
quite the novice, a "creative rebel without a clue". However, I think that
for some of us, the brutal criticism was just what we needed to find the
additional depth of commitment and ride the adrenaline to another level of
creative participation. New thinking and substantial learning did not
always come quickly in a comfort zone and a heated critique session often
did stimulate our education. To be sure, that kind of harsh critical
experience is not applicable to the lower grades but it certainly can be an
effective tool for older students who need to become more engaged in
thinking about art and their own creative efforts.
Certainly, I would not try to use the harsh critical technique to stimulate
thought and involvement with my high school art students. Many of my
students have no intention of ever taking another art course..... making
their experience with their art teacher and this single opportunity in the
art room critical to their positive future art interests and appreciation.
Other students are simply lost individuals floating unengaged and aimless in
the vast sea that is our student population, one day finding themselves
stuck in the art room out of the convenience of a quick choice made by a
parent or councilor. Then ( in the midst of a situation which may verge upon
"public child care") there can be found the core of engaged, sensitive and
hard working individuals who are willing to build upon that which we offer
in the public school learning environment. Thank goodness for those kids
and their interest.......