[Clayart] bad pots 2/story
melpots2 at visi.com
Tue Oct 25 10:09:02 EDT 2016
we all have our first pot story. it is part of the craft
legend. but, what many of us that teach are trying to
impart is......you fire good pots for people. you set high
standards for students to shoot at. making a decent pot is
a very hard task. it takes a special kind of person with
hand eye coordination. if all get A's, you minimize the
natural talent of the true crafts person. does that A art
student get a pass in math or physics???...hell no. take
your C and be happy with it.
it is part of our new world that we praise and hoopla over
everything that new students do. `wow, that was a good
fart, let's record that...and a movie too...wow, you are
wonderful.` we have become praisers of nothing.
atta boy/girl crazy.
as a teacher of craft i did not waste space in the kiln to
fire 3 lb donuts. in fact most serious students want the
early work thrown out. they get it. they are reaching for
a good goal.
i worked in the japanese studio for the entire summer and
not one of my pots got near a kiln.
i re/cycled the same hundred pounds of clay a hundred times.
the first fired pots happened about mid september. then
they rolled out by the hundreds. but, they were made to a
standard. reach for that standard, then watch out.
of course you mostly know a japanese master potter does not
do `atta boy` stuff. in fact, if you did a really good job
you did `not` get `daaami` or, bad. i knew it was going to
be different, but it took time to realize i was never going
to be praised. `good enough pig` was all i got.
yes, it was very different, but not too far from how warren
mackenzie dealt with students. he had very high standards
of excellence. no easy A's.
new students look around when learning. they see the good
pots going into the firing cycle. they observe what it
takes to be good. in most cases they get excited and work
to a goal. when it is reached....it is wonderful feelings.
not much good comes from padding a grade, or kidding a
student. they know. (as all of you knew when you started
doing higher end art/craft.)
a former student, now a doctor in chicago, said in an email
that the B grade he got in my class, was the best grade he
got in high school. he was a straight A student. well,
except in my class.
it is like giving a two foot trophy to a kid that placed
82nd in a race. they know.
i can remember when schools started to group kids by bird
names...robins, blue jays etc. all the kids knew that the
cardinals were the smart kids. sparrows were the kids with
D- grades. i could never figure out who the teachers thought
they were kidding.
i can remember being in sixth grade and realizing i was very
smart. it was not academic, i could figure stuff out, far
ahead of other kids. i could `see` things more clearly.
yes. `SEE`. that was my gift, and it has always been my
gift. and, boy do i respect that in other people.
(fred paget comes to mind, and my god-son bill burgert.)
schools often are in the `prediction of excellence`business.
mary and john will be going to harvard, they are
brilliant. what happens when they do not make it???? or
become `a pain in the ass to our society`.
as pete pinnell said to me one day...`give me a farm kid
from nebraska, with high energy and personal strength and
desire and i can make success.` pete could see `potential
energy`. potential means nothing until success is reached.
great teachers move potential to reality.
( i have told this story before. on my last day in the
studio in japan, i realized there was a cherry wood stamp on
my wheel head. uchida put it there. it was my ph.d. the
stamp kanji was `SAMA`/ those that know some japanese know
that when you move from melsan, you move up to melsama. it
is a great honor. it became my master potter stamp. you
see, he knew that contrast is wonderful. you get your `atta
boy` when you deserve it. there was not a dry eye in the
studio. mrs. uchida blubbered. the boys bowed to me with
tears in their eyes. now, that is reward times 100.
gotta wait for it.)
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