Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 3 Blog 1 - Weekly Reading

Week 3 reading from The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

Leading from any chair

This chapter dealt with giving everyone the power to make a contribution to the team effort. People often loose interest in what they are doing because they feel disenfranchised. But a good leader leads by involving the group. I have tried this with some of my lessons with mixed results. Sometimes, the student appreciates that they can voice their opinion and will even suggest alternative ways of doing things. More often with teenagers, they become suspicious and worry that I am trying to trick them. They are not used to being encouraged to do an assignment their way. They are worried about their grade and want me to take them through each step the way I think it should be done. When this new approach fails, I am not disappointed, since I know that even one success is worth the effort. I am convinced that students want to contribute their ideas. They just need to be encouraged.

Rule 6

I want to write this down before the thought passes. I teach photography to a variety of teenagers. Rule 6 is probably the hardest for them. After all they are still in the childhood stage of the calculating self. Usually I give photo assignments ahead of time. I tell them to take 20 to 30 photos, they edit them to six that they turn in and one of those is picked for a grade. I show them examples from past classes and tell them my grading rubric. What they must do is figure out what will give them the best grade. When the picture is presented to the class, they are required to tell the class what is good, what is bad and how they would improve on the picture.

I want to try a new assignment. Next door to our school is an arboretum of sorts maintained by the senior citizens. What I plan to do is not tell them what the assignment is until we get there. Then I will tell them that they are allowed to take only one picture. They must think of it this way; there is no grade to worry about but only that you take a photo that expresses you at this time, one photo to express your life at this point, in this place. I am hoping that this could be a step from the calculating self to the central self that rule 6 is about.

The Way Things Are

This chapter is not so much accepting things the way they are, but accepting reality and working with it to create a positive experience. All my classes are different. What I have to do is work with them. Some classes go along and get all the work done while other classes disrupt my plans. I just have to work with what I have been given.

Giving Way to Passion

This was an interesting chapter. At first I thought that this is fine, but one could not go through life giving way to passion. It would be too exhausting. Then I kept reading. What I think they really meant was that one must use passion to see the connection between and among the things we do in life. If we let go, then we can connect the dots. I really liked the last paragraph…BTFI.


  1. Clarence-
    I think the idea for the photography assignment is a great thought!!! I would definitely enjoy the assignment more knowing it's not graded, but at the same time allows me to express my emotions. The problem I see is that students who aren't necessarily self motivated, will make a mockery of it. I teach Art 1 at the high school level, so I range from students who are interested in Art and really love it, to students who don't care and just want the elective credit. So I know if I gave them this assignment, half would just take the first decent looking photo and not really think through the purpose of the project. Maybe requiring, and telling them ahead of time, that they will need to write a short explanation of their photograph (or present it) will make students think a little harder about why they are taking their one photo before taking it. Great idea though!

  2. Thanks for the idea. I know what you mean when you have students that only want to do the minimum to get by.