Saturday, February 14, 2009

perception vs intention

I just finished reading a post by my good friend at school whose son wanted to make a "different kind of valentine box". He chose to make a serpent box and my friend posted pictures of her dad and son working on it. I was a spectacular effort. As I read the comments, however, my friend said that her son's teacher was less than complementary about the box and he was crushed.

I am a teacher as well and I try really hard not to say anything to discourage young people's artistic afforts. Sometimes it's hard. I have heard kids sing solos that I'm sure Simon Cowell would have made merciless comments.

I know that perception and intention can often conflict. I recently had a student that was having a hard time getting going on his instrument and I got a note from his mom saying that he thought I had given up on him. I felt so bad. I had NOT given up but simply wondered if he had given up on himself. I had had several kids quit band recently and thought he would be next. My ego was wounded. His perception of himself was skewed.

After getting the parent note, I gave him a big pep talk and he returned the next week able to play his instrument better than he had ever done. The kids and I cheered for him and he was so proud. I pronounced him a player and now he is. His mom is very pleased.

Was I at fault? Centainly not intentionally. All I can do is go on and learn my lesson. All kids need support all the time for their efforts. So do adults.


Michelle said...


Thanks for your kind words. Every time that my kids go through something at school, I learn something about myself as a teacher and this experience was no exception. When it comes to our children we moms become fiercely protective and when I saw how crushed he was my heart broke into a million pieces. In reality, I don't think that his teacher, as you said, intentionally hurt him, but the result, was a hurt little boy. I just hope that it doesn't discourage him from his creative thinking. If we didn't have creative thinking in our world, where would we be? I think you are a wonderfully encouraging teacher, and the fact that you even thought twice about the incident with your student just affirms that. Thanks for the post, Marie.

Crazy for Art said...

Oh, I don't know, I can hear some teachers saying something negative. You and I wouldn't, but some would. Your post just brought up my own can of worms.

susan m hinckley said...

I firmly believe that everyone has to endure bad teachers from time to time -- that's part of the real value of school, because it teaches you how to deal with all the difficult situations and (stupid) people you're going to have to deal with later. But thank goodness there are also teachers like you! Because that's the other part of the value of school -- you learn that there are also positive people in the world, who are hoping for your success and willing to help however they can. Keep up the great work!

Crazy for Art said...

Thanks Susan!
I certainly do my best. There is usually so much going on at the same time that it can be hard to be "all things to all kids" but we try. You're right about learning to handle all sorts of people out there. I'm still working on that one!

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I am interested in textiles and most visual art. Presently I am painting whimsical paintings. I always have a quilt in the works, and I consider quilts to be art as well.