Saturday, May 14, 2011

Week 2 – Blog 1 – The Art Of Possibility

The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

Chapter 1 – It’s all invented

As a photographer, I have been so trained to look at photographs and interpret

them that it came as quite a curiosity that people who have never seen a photo cannot read or understand what they are looking at. Our experiences and training create what we see as well as what we think. I must remember this when I teach. Instead of showing frustration or impatience, I should take the time to understand what my students are thinking and seeing.

Chapter 2 – Stepping into a Universe of Possibilities

I teach photography. I teach theory and I teach composition or how to look at the world. Some students do well in theory, but have difficulty with looking at the world. Others can’t handle theory, but make great pictures. My problem has always been how to grade fairly. I wish that I could just give them a acceptable or unacceptable grade for the entire course, but my school will not let me do that. After all, I have to assign a grade that will give them a class standing. They are, after all competing against their fellow students. The possibility of helping them learn to see is what keeps me excited about my class. I only wish the grades weren’t more important to everyone else.

Chapter 3 – Giving an A

I had a meeting with a parent. It seems his daughter; my student received a low grade from me. It was a trend with her that every grading period, her grade went down. I knew that he came down hard on her and in defense; she blamed me for all her problems. The truth was, as the class got more involved, she spent less time on the assignments. I really felt sorry for the girl. All her father wanted was a high grade. He could care less if she learned anything. I have often wished I could get my students to worry less about a grade and more about what they are learning. They just don’t seem to understand that good grades will follow learning.

Chapter 4 – Being a Contribution

This was my favorite chapter so far. I really want my students to feel that if they contribute to my class, then right or wrong, they are doing what I want them to do. It is much more difficult to contribute, than to hide in the wings and watch others. Working with teenagers has proven that the most difficult thing to do is to make them understand the value of contributing.


  1. The story you told about your interaction with "the dad" in art class was very powerful. So many times that letter grade assigned to a student is all a parent cares about. If the letter grade has fallen, to them, it means that something catastrophic has happened from when the grade was an A and now it is a B. I have found in my math classroom that when content gets harder, students' grades go down because the content is new to them and they tend to make more mistakes. When the content has been covered previously, they are a pro and do really well. A "B" is not a bad thing; they just need to work harder. So good grades will follow learning, like you stated at the end of your chapter 3 summary.

  2. C.K.,
    You bring out a very good point about not getting frustrated when students are not getting what you are saying. Coming from an Art teacher perspective as well, its very frustrating when you think your students should understand what you see, when maybe they don’t or then there’s my favorite excuse, well I really wasn’t paying attention when you told us what we’re supposed to be doing. Sigh. I have students and parents who just assume because they are in Art class, they should automatically get an A, regardless whether they do any work or not, just because it’s Art. I actually had a parent call me while I was on summer vacation, after the final report card had gone out, because they didn’t think I had given their child a high enough “A” and maybe I had made a mistake in my grading. Art is definitely hard to grade at times, even with a rubric, especially when you know that this student may have just haphazardly created something amazing, while another student may have worked really hard with less stellar results. I face the same challenges with getting my students to contribute in class discussions and in critiques, which led me to do my AR about blogging, and it does seem to help on some levels.