Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Angry and indignant

Art with Hitler. This is not a good experience for me. It brings back bad memories. I've suggested dropping these lessons. But we'll keep going so long as Shark, Tiger or Squirrel say they get anything from them. Shark says she likes the art but not Teech. Tiger says she likes the art and doesn't take any notice of Teech. Squirrel says she thinks Teech is trying to show them how to be a schoolie.

In art lessons, Teech is in charge. Teech takes a register. Then it's all, 'Now listen to me. Me, Me, Me.' She tells the kids what to do and what lines to paint where. And in what colour. So they do. They put the lines just where she says, and in the colour she says. And I sit there seething. I think every time they do what Teech says, they're not learning about art, or what their materials can do, or what colours can do, or lines, or shapes. They're learning how to be obedient to Teech.

Squirrel puts up a little bit of rebellion. She says, 'I'm making my line a bit curvy, and Teech said straight.'
'The curvy line looks really good' I say. Then that gets me feeling more rebellious, so I wait till Teech is close by and I say again, 'I like this curvy line. It stops all these straight lines from being very boring.'

Then I get angry because now I am petty, mean minded and reduced to using Squirrel's art to make sniping comments. Then that makes me feel even more rebellious, and I start wanting to make snorty noises at inappropriate moments. If I do, Teech will say I am disrupting the lesson and send me out the room to stand in the corridor.

I could be good at being disruptive in the classroom. I have a lot of experience of it, and I've been taught by some of the best practitioners of the art. Some of my lessons have been undermined by masterful performances. First I'd start off with the hissing, at such a low volume that Teech can't tell where it's coming from, so she has to walk around the room, like I once had to, slightly leaning with an ear inclined, to pick up the direction and the culprit. Which already looks pretty foolish, but probably less foolish than shouting out 'Stop hissing!'

If I didn't do the hissing, I would do scraping the chair legs back and forward across the floor whenever Teech tried to talk. Or loud coughing. That would get a laugh. Or I could do what several kids tried in my career, and that's to lie flat on the floor. Perhaps across the doorway, or under a desk, or by the board. Then don't say anything, don't move, don't respond. That's the key to success.

Of course this is all low-level disruption compared to the really classy stuff which I would have to have the right mentality for. I could try a rerun of throwing the hammer, brandishing the fake gun, being drugged out, or shouting 'I'm a dinosaur' before picking up Teech's chair and throwing it at the wall.

By the end of Teech's art lesson I'm angry and indignant, and not in a good mood.

Or I could be just jealous. At some point this week, in a moment of madness, I'll attempt to get Shark, Tiger and Squirrel to sit down, stay quiet, and look at a book together, or draw a picture, or do some maths. And I'll be rounding them up from behind the sofa, from under the tables, down the bottom of the garden, from bedrooms and bathrooms. And when everyone's together we'll all look at each other and I'll say, 'Shall we do some work on Persia then?' And the answer will come, 'No', before they all run off.

But there's consolation. At least they don't have to do the hissing.


Michelle said...

As an individual, you must not be satisfied with just becoming like everybody else. You must think for yourself. For example, art supervisors. I can remember when they used to come to my classroom in elementary school, and I’m sure you can remember it, too. You were given a paper, and the teacher would put up the drawing in front of you and you were really excited. It was going to be art time. You had all the crayolas in front of you, and you folded your hands and you waited. And soon the art teacher would come running in, because she had been to fourteen other classrooms that day teaching art. She ran in, and she’d huff and puff and she’d say, "Good morning girls and boys. Today we are going to draw a tree." And all the kids would say, "Goody, we’re going to draw a tree!" And then she’d get up there with a green crayola and she’d draw this great big green thing. And then she put a brown base on it and a few blades of grass. And she’d say, "There is a tree." And all the kids would look at it and they’d say, "That isn’t a tree. That’s a lollipop." But she said that was a tree, and then she’s pass out these papers and say, "Now, draw a tree." She didn’t really say, "Draw a tree" — she said, "Draw my tree." And the sooner you found out that’s what she meant and could reproduce this lollipop and hand it to her, the sooner you would get an A.

But here was little Janie who knew that wasn’t a tree, because she’d seen a tree such as this art teacher had never experienced! So she got magenta, and orange, and blue, and purple, and green, and she scribbled all over her page and happily brought it up and gave it to the teacher. She looked at it and said, "Oh my God…."

How long does it take somebody to realize that what they’re really saying is, "To pass, I want you to reproduce my tree." And so it goes through the first grade, second, third and right on into seminars in graduate school. I teach seminars in graduate school. It’s amazing how people have learned to parrot by then. Think? Don’t be ridiculous. They can give you the facts, verbatim, just as you’ve given it to them. And you can’t blame those students, because that’s what they’ve been taught. You say to them, "Be creative," and they’re fearful. And so what happens to our uniqueness; what happens to our tree? All this beautiful uniqueness has gone right down the drain. Everybody is like everybody else, and everybody is happy. R.D. Laing says, "we are satisfied when we’ve made people like ourselves out of our children: Frustrated, sick, blind, deaf…..

Excerpted from the book, LIVING, LOVING & LEARNING by Leo Buscaglia

and found on Monster & Teeny blog.

Michelle said...

I should've put quotation marks around it though.