Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How we learn and how we get the grade

Rating, reviewing and grading the arts is a very subjective thing. Most of the time, as in reviews, we realize that the evaluation is an opinion and that we can choose to agree or disagree. What happens, however, when the evaluation is the most important thing and actually has bearing? In this case I am talking about an academic setting.

This story comes from a close friend of mine’s student teaching days.

He was first year scenic design at a rather prestigious private institution. At this particular school, the majority of the theatre department was made up of performance majors – or as we like to call them actors. There was a requirement for two production/design classes so every first year design class was bound to have its fair number of actors along side the dedicated designers. These actors, as you guessed it, were taking the class just to fulfill the requirement so they could graduate and wanting to do the bare minimum requirements so they could go off and star in that semester’s mainstage.

This particular class was an unusually unmotivated group and kept asking the professor how he was going to grade the final project – which was a fully realized model set.

Our friend finally go so fed up with his group that he told them that he would be grading the models on how far he could throw them. Whose ever flew the farthest would receive an “A” and the scale would go downward from there.

Happy Birthday: Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)

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