Monday, September 29, 2014

Failing Art … or Failing To Teach?

Latuourell Falls
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon
Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm XF lens

As a child I was a failure in some ways -- or so said my report cards.  My penmanship was so wicked that I began typing in the second grade (not a bad life skill).  I was hardly coordinated in physical education (but in my 30's I took up running -- until my knees exercised veto power). "Industrial Arts" was another flop.  I never quite got the hang of using the plane although in later years I've assembled lots of furniture, built shelves, painted, repaired plumbing and electrical work and wired telephone and cable ports.  And in "art" I couldn't draw worth a damn.  

I had many great teachers -- many who remained lifelong friends.  Yet I still wonder how much of the desire to learn was killed off by an insistence on competitive orthodoxy rather than by trying to develop the abilities that were there.  When teachers did that the results were almost always successful. What if one of those art teachers asked, "Have you considered taking up photography?"  I ponder that from time to time in between shots.  Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do well what if they had tried to ascertain and develop the things that I could.

Guy Talbot State Park, Oregon
Fujifilm X-E2, 18-55mm XF lens

Clearly I couldn't draw a forest scene or a bird but the elements of composition and light in photography are part of "art" -- so why was that overlooked way back when?

Reddish Egret
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Canon EOS 7D, 500mm f/4L

Thankfully today there is more awareness of students who may be "differently able."  The push for "standardized" testing and evaluation of students ignores that not everyone learns the same and that good students may have different abilities.  Education is more than staying within the lines or getting the right answers on a multiple choice exam.  It's about preparing a student for life.  

I still can't draw worth a damn.  And frankly, I don't give a damn.

Pine Glades Lake, Everglades National Park, Florida
Nikon 1 V1, Nikkor 10-30mm

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