SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2011

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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point of view How to Earn an "F" in Art Rama Hughes M new opportunity to succeed in art. Or to fail. y students and their parents can barely believe it but, yes, it is possible to earn an F in my art class. I made a poster that lists all the ways that a student can do it. The list is meant to inspire my students and maybe make them laugh. Nonetheless, I am as disappointed as anyone when one of my students actually earns an F. who's to Blame? A bad grade is a failure on my part as much as it is on the part of my students. My goal as an art teacher is to simplify art into sets of skills and ideas that any student can learn. It is my job to make those lessons compelling and comprehensible. An F represents my failure to do that. Of course, it is my students' job to approach their lessons with a willingness to learn. That means more than just drawing well; it means investigating new ideas. It means struggling with unfamiliar materials. It means practicing something difficult until it becomes easier. Students risk failure in my class by not risking failure in their artwork. Illustration by Rama Hughes. always creates beautiful drawings, does he or she deserve an A in art? What if that student draws all the time to avoid learning how to paint? Good Artist vs. Good Student Should he or she earn an A without There is a difference between being a learning to sculpt? What about the good artist and being a good student. student who doesn't achieve beauty in Ideally, every art student would be his or her work but rises to the chalboth. In my experience though, good lenge of each lesson? students become rapidly more talArt is an amazing subject because ented when they are there are so many Students risk failure in opportunities to sucpresented with strong lessons. Talented artmy class by not risking ceed. One lesson can ists don't improve as failure in their artwork. challenge a student's much until they are drawing ability. The challenged to become good students. next one can challenge creativity. The Effort isn't enough either. Talent one after that can challenge his or her does play a role in the success of our grasp of history, knack for philosophy, students, but how important is talent or ability to communicate clearly. if it goes unchallenged? If a student Each lesson presents students with a 12 October 2011 SchoolArts Grades as teaching tools A grade might motivate some students, but it is not a reward, and it is not a punishment. A grade is a teaching tool. An honest grade starts conversations that often begin with an exclamation such as, "I can't get a B in art!" My students are lucky to have parents who get involved when a grade falls any lower, which invites questions: What is my child studying in art? Why is that important? What is my child good at? With what does my child struggle? How can my child improve? One of my proudest accomplishments as a teacher came from the turn-around that I witnessed after discussing a bad grade with one of my students. "I'm the worst artist in class," He told me. "If you really think that you are the worst artist in this class," I responded, "then I expect you to work harder than everyone here." And he did. In just a few weeks, he became a much better student and a much better artist, thanks to that one F. 20 ways to earn an f in Art 1. Be afraid of new things. 2. Be late to class. 3. Blame it on a lack of talent. 4. Do as little as you can. 5. Don't ask questions. 6. Don't even try. 7. Have someone else do your work. 8. Ignore instructions. 9. Ignore people who know more than you. 10. Imagine that you will get better without practice. Continued on page 61.

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