Friday, January 23, 2009

First Day Postscript

Just like always being somewhat unsatisfied with my own art and forever starting all over again on another piece, I usually space out saying something important during the first lecture. One reason why I’m glad there’s a whole semester; whenever I go home and kick myself for not mentioning some point or another, there’s always the next class to recap and expand upon any given topic. I suppose the constant experience of giving talks and presentations around town to different groups has a side-benefit of training me to focus better and consolidate the crucial information – but that always goes neck & neck with the exponential accumulation of new ideas and examples. In this way I cringe whenever looking back in retrospect at what my first classes were like - just like looking at my own artwork from years ago. Long as both keep getting better and there’s no stagnation that's cool.

Tucked in amidst the initial set of handouts I now throw in the “General Guidelines" pasted in below. Don’t have any idea where it originated from, but as an unofficial template for assessing students it for the most part falls into line with my own approach for grading. As of the past couple years, the average spread of grades in my classes usually are 3-5 “F’s” out of 20 students, a few “A’s”. couple “B’s”, bunch of “C’s” and maybe a “D” or two. The majority of failures are always a direct result of attendance issues – while I’m a little more lenient compared with other faculty with a policy that allows for a couple missed classes, the hammer falls pretty hard after that. Given the situation of living here, I strongly recommend to not miss any classes, keeping in reserve the “get out of class free” cards as there will undoubtedly be some extenuating circumstances at some point. For example, in the past few weeks we went from sixty degrees below zero to sixty above and now back to the “normal” ten-above to ten-below. Shit happens, vehicles die, the cold and darkness starts to weigh and sleeping in for an 8am class becomes a siren song. I can't teach them if they aren't there, and I make the point that it is basiaclly a job in that if they don't show up, they don't get paid, and eventually get fired. Falling behind in a studio art class is a guaranteed nightmare of a slow death, as most people initially underestimate the sheer volume of work that can swiftly accumulate and overwhelm. Especially since the invested time factor for each project is pretty evident – the works that were banged out the night before they are due for review in class stick out like a sore thumb on the critique wall. Another reason for my deliberate pacing of assignments and constant monitoring of progress through sketchbook reviews and specific deadlines for thumbnails and roughs well in advance of the respective project’s due date. Again, this allows for gauging the relative seriousness and dedication of each individual student so as to stay on top of potential trouble before it gets out of hand.

"Some General Grading Guidelines for Art Classes"

“A” Student:
• Has clearly mastered technical ability with the material
and joins ideas with that ability
• Displays commitment to the challenges of their work,
goes beyond expectations,
has discipline and self-motivation
• Has a certain amount natural ability or insight, organizational skills and talent
• Comes to class on time and is always prepared
• Is very active verbally, participating well in critiques
• Has almost perfect attendance
“B” Student:
• Has consistent, even results on projects and understanding of material
• Displays commitment to their work and some self-motivation
but will need an outside stimulus
• Shows a certain amount of talent, but hasn’t really developed it yet
• Comes prepared to class at all times or at least most of the time
• Completes work on time
• Is active in discussion and critiques
• Good attendance, missing less than 3 times
“C” Student:
• Obtains inconsistent results, has general idea about what is being addressed but has trouble putting it together, hasn’t mastered the material or what it can do
• Has average commitment and dedication, gets the job done but typically needs
a lot of outside stimulation
• May have an average amount of talent or be lacking in it; or a lot of talent but
poor attitude/cannot organize themselves; or well organized but lack innovation
• Comes to class prepared most of the time
• Completes work on time
• Is active in discussions once in a while
• Good attendance, missing only a few classes
“D” Student:
• Poor or very spotty results on projects, has little understanding of materials
and concepts discussed
• Shows only occasional interest or dedication to projects, poor self-motivation
• Lacks some exceptional skill or talent
• Comes prepared to class only sometimes /about half the time, has trouble or
excuses for completing work on deadline or doesn’t know when it is due
• Poor verbal ability in discussions and critiques
• Poor attendance
“F” Student
• Little or few results on projects; either incomplete or hastily done
• Displays inconsistent results or little commitment to work or ideas
• Almost never prepared for class
• Almost never completes work on time
• Almost never contributes to discussions
• Poor attendance

I have to remain cognizant that a good portion of any beginning drawing class is full of students looking to simply acquire elective humanities credits in the College of Liberal Arts, as opposed to pursuing a career in the Fine Arts. I joke about them at the very least becoming endowed with the ability to attend future art openings and talk the talk with the best of ‘em (even if they can’t walk the walk) after they are done with this class, plus be able to make firm decisions on aesthetic choices while buying art for their own living rooms later on in life (besides matching the upholstery). But developing an informed opinion is a tremendous side-benefit here, and is the underlying function behind learning to critique.

But there is usually a couple every semester that declare an art major, a couple more elect to pursue an art minor, and everyone leaves empowered to some degree that they can draw. Which is good.

“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist” – Eric Gill

No comments:

Post a Comment