Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Visual Art Project Response

Following our discussion and exhibition of our Visual Art Projects, many of my fellow students touched on a very interesting topic: to what ends do our course/work guidelines matter?

For most of our future curriculums, we as teachers will expect our students to meet our academic guidelines and expectations. Often, we'll assign classwork and homework with specific instructions for our students to take whatever topic we've been exploring and use their intellectual muscle to convey their understanding. Most, if not all assignments, will have strict instructions as to how the student should approach his or her own work. While not inherently wrong in establishing criteria, as future teachers we must be wary of allowing our grading scales to become rigid and static. Students vary in their intellectual abilities and how they process information and thus, the end goal of academic evaluation should be held on both an individual basis and the amount of the student's comprehension and mastery of a topic present in his or her work.

Shifting back to our Visual Art project, I was tasked with taking home Amanda's diorama. My initial observations of her project are as follows: an all black box with a small soldier who appears to be both tied to the roof of the box and has been hung. Our assignment's original guidelines required us to create a 3d representation of a piece of text from "The Things They Carried" by Tim O' Brien and she appears to have followed them to the letter. More profoundly, she has exhibited a clear understanding of the themes the story attempts to convey. If I were to be grading her project, I would immediately embrace the thematic impressions of loneliness, horror, death, and control vividly conveyed by her soldier and his environment. The Vietnam War was a dark period in human history and Amanda's project gives a worthy representation of what an American soldier may have existentially felt.

That being said, all the comprehension conveyed on her behalf would not be lost if she had instead relied on a 2d representation of her text. If for instance she were to have done a painting or collage instead, there would still be a clear view of her own academic and personal connection with the text. Of course, the argument would be that she failed to follow directions and thus deserves to be graded down for that. However, I feel it would be unfair of me to do so for any sort of assignment she were to turn in were to contain this level of literary comprehension clearly demonstrates her mastery of the topic.

At first, I was a part of the school of thought that felt if a student didn't follow directions to the letter he or she should me marked down accordingly. After viewing Amanda's and my other classmates projects, it is clearly plain to see that academic and intellectual understanding comes in all shapes and forms. We as future teachers need to be able to accept that in order to get our students to reach their full potential.

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