Xavier School | Grade 10 | by Josiah Gosingtian
Art class isn’t just about making collages and painting random things. There’s a lot of thought and effort involved in creative activities, and I feel a need to address the “underestimation cycle” in this school.
Some of the administration believe that since Xavier School is not an art school, art classes should focus on art appreciation more (versus art production). I don’t agree. I’ve talked to both Xavier graduates and students about their art class experiences, and it’s been the same song: the old way of teaching art here (side note: it’s great that the old guard is gone) involved a lot of simple work that didn’t make sense to the students. They didn’t know how basket-weaving or making collages was relevant to them. Combine that with the strict “discipline” of the old school, it has practically crippled both students and graduates’ confidence in their creativity. (A popular story: a former teacher would declare to the class how their works were horrible, “This is not art!” The same guy would also crumple student work before them if they didn’t meet his standards.)
Low Expectations -> “Simple” and Irrelevant or Demeaning Teaching / Work -> Low Creativity Self-Esteem -> Poor Student Output -> Low Expectations… It’s a downward spiral.
It’s been proven that when teachers raise their expectations of their students, student performance improves. My fellow art teachers and I have been doing exactly that, or at least, we’re trying to. Some context for the batch I’m handling: these guys haven’t had an art class for about 2 or so years, and their previous experiences with art have been as I had mentioned in the underestimation cycle. I decided to teach them as much as I could, without having to baby them with “just the basics”. I’m aware that some of my requirements could be hard for someone who is just starting to get into certain design concepts, but the fact is that my students have been able to do it.
One thing I noticed is that the best work comes from the students who worry about their work the least, which feeds the idea that confidence plays an important part in creativity. My students may not be aware of it now, but creativity is what will separate them from the dime-a-dozen college graduates who will be applying for the same jobs as them, if they don’t actually create their own jobs.
A little tip regarding the WHY and HOW in the slides: WHY is what the remixed school exists for, and HOW is how the school enables its students to achieve the WHY.