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Abraham Verghese and Denise Pope — How Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? - The On Being Project
"Ms. Tippett: So I always worry about when any conversation veers into the “kids these days” mode. But that’s not what we’re doing here. We are talking about how this matter of success and what it means has shifted in our lifetimes. Those of us who’ve been around for a little while perceive that, and Denise, you have actually studied that. You have put research to that. You started to see, when you started to look at this, that there’s a lot of hyperactive attention to success in terms of academic achievement, study habits, classroom discipline, peer culture — dropout rates would be the opposite, and, as you said, just about no serious attention to classroom experiences and the character of their intellectual engagement.

Ms. Pope: Yeah. I always start my talks out with “How do you define success?” And if I say it to students in a student assembly, without fail, usually, the top couple of answers are money, grades, test scores, where you go to college, something like that. And that’s been consistent, now, for 15 years.

And when I ask the same question to the parents — and usually, it is the parents of those kids, who are coming at the same school that night — it’s never that. Now, they could be lying; they don’t want to say “money,” when — but usually —

Ms. Tippett: “I want my kid to make a lot of money.” [laughs] Right.

Ms. Pope: No one’s going to stand up and say that out loud. But they say happiness, well-being, give back to society, love and be loved — really different from what we’re hearing from the kids.

Ms. Tippett: That’s interesting, isn’t it, because I would presume, and I think you would too, that they mean that. But what it points at, to me, is that we know how to teach these other things, and we invest in them — that, it’s what I perceive, that we have lost our sophistication about investing in those things, even if we believe them.

Ms. Pope: And I think it’s in the everyday little messages that schools send and that parents send. When you walk into schools, you see awards. One of the first things, when you walk into a school, is usually the trophy case. Sometimes you see pictures of kids with 4.0s on the wall. We publish honor students in the newspaper. The first thing a parent says when the kid walks in the door is, “How’d you do on the history test?” You’re sending those messages that external, extrinsic — grades, test scores — that’s what matters more. They’re posting their report cards on the fridge. They’re not posting their public service activities on the fridge. They’re not raving to grandma about that when they talk about SAT scores. So it’s happening — we’re sending the messages to these kids to produce that result."



"Ms. Pope: There’s definitely a corollary in education around relationships, because we know that when you feel that there’s someone who has your back, when there’s an adult you can go to if you have a problem, if your teacher truly cares about you, knows your name, knows who you are, knows how you learn, kids are more engaged. They do better. And that’s where we say, it isn’t rocket science. We know how to get kids to learn. We know that if you feel safe, and you feel like you belong, and you’re excited and engaged, you’re more likely going to learn than if you’re not. And it’s just, the whole system is getting in the way of those relationships and that learning being able to happen. So we work very concretely with schools: Can you change your bell schedule so that not everyone’s running around eight times a day? Can you have a later start so that kids can get more sleep, because they need it? Can you build time in for teachers and students to work together and meet and talk and have advisory? We know how to do this; it’s just really hard to break what — everybody in their life has been through 14, 12, 16 years of school that all look the same, and we’re talking about something that’s pretty different and scary, particularly for those schools that have those high-achieving kids, because if it ain’t broke, and we’re saying, no, no, no, it’s broke …

[laughter]

… it’s broke — it looks different. You might be getting good grades and getting them into college …"



"Dr. Verghese: I think that the real education of my life was all the failures. That is, really, what shaped me. So I began medical school in Ethiopia, actually, and a very nice school run by the British consul for East Africa. And then civil war broke out. So, suddenly, in the middle of my third year of medical school, I was adrift. And it was the worst thing that could’ve ever happened to me, I thought.

My parents had come here a little before that, reading the writing on the wall, and I joined them in New Jersey. And I could not get back into medical school, because I didn’t have an undergraduate degree. In most parts of the world, you go straight from high school to premed to medical school. And I began to work as an orderly. And I think it was the hardest part of my life. At the time, I thought this was really the pits. And I was working night shifts and sharing a car with my parents.

But I look back now, and if I have any sort of reputation in America, I think it’s come from the fact that I got to see what happens to the patient in the 23 hours and 57 minutes that the doctors are not in the room. I feel a great solidarity with my colleagues in nursing, nursing assistants. And I think that that “failure,” so to speak, turned out to be the biggest success. And I don’t want to go on, but I would say that almost everything I learned — and I hope undergraduates really listen to this; in fact, I know, Dr. Costanzo and others have a whole project around resilience and failures — that is really where your education comes. The rest of it is fluff.

Ms. Tippett: I’ll just say here that every time I get introduced like I did tonight, which was so gracious and beautiful, but it’s like, we live in this presentational culture. And every time, I cringe a little bit because I know the real story.

[laughter]

And it’s not that all of those credentials don’t matter, but the real story, it’s just full of more — most of the time, for many years, even the things that look like a success, eventually, often feel like failure so much of the time — or just very uncertain. And if I look at my résumé now, of my 20s, I walked into all of these adventures. And it looks so impressive, and I know that every single minute of every single day of all of those years, I was constantly second-guessing myself and wondering what I should be doing that would be better.

And I actually think this is one reason that friendship across generations is really important. I think it’s really a calling for this century because the wisdom of young adulthood, I think, is actually an urgency and an impatience and this longing and this aspiration to see the world whole and make it better. We want that. But there’s something so relaxing about living for a while and knowing in your body that life is long and knowing that there will be another side to whatever is happening. And so that’s really the experience you have of failure.

But I will say, the wisest people I’ve interviewed — and the most successful, I would say, in human terms — are not successful in spite of what’s gone wrong for them but because of how — not just how they have walked through that, but how they integrated it into their wholeness on the other side.

Mr. Feineh: Switching to the perspective of an employer or a mentor or a professor, what can each of those roles and people do to encourage alternate ways of thinking about success, more from the extrinsic to the intrinsic mode of viewing success?

Dr. Verghese: Well, maybe I’ll start and say that I actually think that my mentees are teaching me what success means because I think the millennials, they really have a much better sense of what’s important. And sometimes our generation complains about that, that this is just a job for them, not a calling. But, on the other hand, they are much more ready to put their family and their children first in a way that I regret that I didn’t do. And so I’ve learned from them to be flexible, to be much more concerned about their personal health than I think we were. So, I’m not sure that I impart as much to them as they impart to me.

But that said, I think a lot of — when I do impart things that are not strictly medical and career, it’s mostly about just relaxing and making sure that they’re enjoying the journey.
I have a very simple definition of success, which is, any day above ground is a good day …

[laughter]

… given the alternative, and I see plenty of that. So if you start with that premise, and it’s not hard to do in medicine, then literally every day is a good day. How can you not bring your best to it?

Mr. Feineh: And the last question I have here is from a young person who went to a competitive school in Palo Alto …

[laughter]

… and finds him or herself struggling to question what success looks like. “I feel like I have few role models. Even the three of you have successful careers that were explored in your introductions.” And this person is curious to hear your thoughts about career, mentorship-building, how to create some of these pipelines, and a final direct action to help students expand some of their opportunities.

Ms. Pope: We hear this question a lot from kids. There’s a couple of different answers. One is that people assume that there’s a straight and narrow path, that I knew when I was 18 that I was going to be sitting up here today. And I can tell you, absolutely not. I didn’t even think I should be up here with this guy, anyway, now. So I think that idea of a straight and narrow path is really outdated, and as a young person — so part of this is, your prefrontal cortex — getting into the medical side of things — is not fully developed. And the … [more]
kristatippett  denisepope  abrahamverghese  2019  education  unschooling  success  youth  colleges  universities  life  living  highered  highereducation  schooliness  schooling  school  resilience  presence  markrothko  parenting  motivation  extrinsicmotivation  workllifebalance  generations  agesegregation  careers 
may 2019 by robertogreco
How to Teach Art to Kids, According to Mark Rothko
"If you’ve ever seen Mark Rothko’s paintings—large canvases filled with fields of atmospheric color—and thought, “a child could do this,” you’ve paid the Abstract Expressionist a compliment.

Rothko greatly admired children’s art, praising the freshness, authenticity, and emotional intensity of their creations. And he knew children’s art well, working as an art teacher for over 20 years at the Brooklyn Jewish Center. To his students—kindergarteners through 8th graders—Rothko wasn’t an avant-garde visionary or burgeoning art star, he was “Rothkie.” “A big bear of a man, the friendliest, nicest, warmest member of the entire school,” his former student Martin Lukashok once recalled.

Rothko was a thought leader in the field of children’s art education. He published an essay on the topic (“New Training for Future Artists and Art Lovers”) in 1934, which he hoped to follow up with a book. Though he never completed the project, he left behind 49 sheets of notes, known as “The Scribble Book,” which detailed his progressive pedagogy—and from which we’ve taken five lessons that Rothko wanted all art teachers to know.

Lesson #1: Show your students that art is a universal form of expression, as elemental as speaking or singing

Rothko taught that everyone can make art—even those without innate talent or professional training. According to the painter, art is an essential part of the human experience. And just as kids can quickly pick up stories or songs, they can easily turn their observations and imaginings into art. (Similarly, he believed, taking away a child’s access to artmaking could be as harmful as stunting their ability to learn language.)

For Rothko, art was all about expression—transforming one’s emotions into visual experiences that everyone can understand. And kids do this naturally. “These children have ideas, often fine ones, and they express them vividly and beautifully, so that they make us feel what they feel,” he writes. “Hence their efforts are intrinsically works of art.”

Lesson #2: Beware of suppressing a child’s creativity with academic training

As Rothko saw it, a child’s expressiveness is fragile. When art teachers assign projects with strict parameters or emphasize technical perfection, this natural creativity can quickly turn to conformity. “The fact that one usually begins with drawing is already academic,” Rothko explains. “We start with color.”

To protect his students’ creative freedom, Rothko followed a simple teaching method. When children entered his art room, all of their working materials—from brushes to clay—were already set up, ready for them to select and employ in free-form creations. No assignments needed.

“Unconscious of any difficulties, they chop their way and surmount obstacles that might turn an adult grey, and presto!” Rothko describes. “Soon their ideas become visible in a clearly intelligent form.” With this flexibility, his students developed their own unique artistic styles, from the detail-oriented to the wildly expressive. And for Rothko, the ability to channel one’s interior world into art was much more valuable than the mastery of academic techniques. “There is no such thing as good painting about nothing,” he once wrote.

Lesson #3: Stage exhibitions of your students’ works to encourage their self-confidence

“I was never good at art,” recalled Rothko’s former student Gerald Phillips. “But he…made you feel that you were really producing something important, something good.”

For Rothko, an art teacher’s premier responsibility was to inspire children’s self-confidence. To do this, he organized public exhibitions of his students’ works across New York City, including a show of 150 pieces at the Brooklyn Museum in 1934. And when Rothko had his first solo exhibition at the Portland Art Museum a year earlier, he brought his students’ works along with him and exhibited them next to his own.

These exhibitions gave Rothko’s students a newfound excitement about their work, while educating the public about the potential of children’s art. “It is significant,” Rothko writes, “that dozens of artists viewed this exhibition [of student works at the Brooklyn Museum] and were amazed and stirred by it.” Rothko wanted critics to see that fine art only requires emotional intensity to be successful.

Lesson #4: Introduce art history with modern art (not the Old Masters)

When teaching young students about art history, where do you start? For Rothko, the answer was clear: Modernism.

With 20th-century art, children can learn from works that are similar to their own, whether through the paintings of Henri Matisse, Milton Avery, or Pablo Picasso. These iconic artists sought pure, personal forms of visual expression, free from the technical standards of the past. “[Modern art] has not been obscured by style and tradition as that of the old masters,” Rothko explains. “It is therefore particularly useful to us…to serve as an interpreter to establish the relationship between the child and the stream of art.”

But while exposure to modern art can help boost children’s confidence and creativity, it shouldn’t interfere with the development of a unique style. Rothko discouraged his students from mimicking museum works as well as his own painting practice. “Very often the work of the children is simply a primitive rendition of the creative ends of the artist teacher,” he warns. “Therefore it has the appearance of child art, but loses the basic creative outlet for the child himself.”

Lesson #5: Work to cultivate creative thinkers, not professional artists

In addition to fanning students’ creative instincts, great art teachers can help students become more self-aware, empathetic, and collaborative—and this generates better citizens in the long run, Rothko believed. At the Brooklyn Jewish Center, he hardly cared whether his students would go on to pursue careers in the arts. Instead, Rothko focused on cultivating in his students a deep appreciation for artistic expression.

“Most of these children will probably lose their imaginativeness and vivacity as they mature,” he wrote. “But a few will not. And it is hoped that in their cases, the experience of eight years [in my classroom] will not be forgotten and they will continue to find the same beauty about them. As to the others, it is hoped, that their experience will help them to revive their own early artistic pleasures in the work of others.”

And, in turn, Rothko’s own creativity was revived by his students’ unabashed expressiveness. When the artist began teaching, his works were still somewhat figurative, depicting street scenes, landscapes, portraits, and interiors with loose brushwork. Upon retirement, his style had transformed to complete abstraction, taking the form of vivid, color-filled canvases that he hoped would intuitively resonate with adults and children alike.
markrothko  education  teaching  arteducation  art  howwetech  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  creativity  learning  unschooling  deschooling  modernart  modernism  academics  pedagogy  2018  expression  human  humans  conformity 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Concerning the Violent Peace-Police: An Open Letter to Chris Hedges – The New Inquiry
"Over the course of the next 40 years, Gandhi and his movement were regularly denounced in the media, just as non-violent anarchists are also always denounced in the media (and I might remark here that while not an anarchist himself, Gandhi was strongly influenced by anarchists like Kropotkin and Tolstoy), as a mere front for more violent, terroristic elements, with whom he was said to be secretly collaborating. He was regularly challenged to prove his non-violent credentials by assisting the authorities in suppressing such elements. Here Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all.

And Gandhi was talking about people who were blowing up trains, or assassinating government officials. Not damaging windows or spray-painting rude things about the police."

[Also here: http://www.nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-police ]
police  resistance  revolt  revolution  gandhi  nonviolence  activism  protest  violence  history  occupywallstreet  chrishedges  ows  markrothko  davidgraeber  anarchist  2012  blackbloc  peterkropotkin 
february 2012 by robertogreco

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