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Nelly

Designation--"Master Potter"

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Nelly    16

Dear All,

 

I recently had a friend visit my studio. He received a gift for some work he did on a project. He said "you know your studio is the same size as... and he is a master potter." He then repeated "master potter."

 

I was just thinking about that visit as I trimmed a foot on a bowl. I thought I wonder what this designation means in the pottery or ceramic world? Who gets to call themselves a "master potter."

 

I have had teachers with no academic credentials call themselves a "master potter." I have heard it said among artists that an "MFA is the industry standard to teach."

 

Is there a test you do to get this title? Is it a quiet and simple rule (among the artistic community) that if you have clocked wheel hours and show talent after a period of time you can call yourself a "master potter?" Does the MFA mean you are a Master potter?"

 

I think it was just something I thought about given the emphasis he placed on this title.

 

Is there a hard and fast rule on this designation??

 

Nelly

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Chris Campbell    1,088

Master Potter ... hmmmm

 

If you give yourself the title, you're not.

If others do, you might be.

If someone whose work knocks your socks off does ... enjoy!!

 

Lets see, with the title of Mistress of Potterydom and a dollar I might be able to buy a soda from a vending machine. : - )

 

p.s. I just Googled it and it is amazing how varied the potters and the quality of the work is ... and I found the Master Potter pub too!

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Nelly    16

Master Potter ... hmmmm

 

If you give yourself the title, you're not.

If others do, you might be.

If someone whose work knocks your socks off does ... enjoy!!

 

Lets see, with the title of Mistress of Potterydom and a dollar I might be able to buy a soda from a vending machine. : - )

 

p.s. I just Googled it and it is amazing how varied the potters and the quality of the work is ... and I found the Master Potter pub too!

 

 

Dear Chris,

 

You make me smile. That is what I thought. It is a title that is somewhat ambiguous. And yes, what about mistress potter. Why do we not use the feminine. We always use the masculine-whether in pottery or academia??

 

In my work, you could never use the title "master" unless you demonstrated some proficiency in a subject matter or profession. But somehow in pottery there is no similar rules if I get your drift correctly.

 

It also raises questions about whether there is any need for this title. I mean, does it sell more pots? Do people invite you to more shows? Do people treat you differently??

 

Nelly

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Chris Campbell    1,088

It also raises questions about whether there is any need for this title. I mean, does it sell more pots? Do people invite you to more shows? Do people treat you differently??

 

Well Nelly, start calling yourself one and see if it works ... maybe not on friends or relatives though!

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trina    20

Hi there, in Germany for example, the term meister / master is used in most craftsman type jobs. A carpenter can work as a carpenter but carpenters master, this is the only person who can legally train carpenters. Equally a potter is only a potter. A master is a keramikermeister. Normally a potter master would be teaching in a university or in industry. In the rest of Europe this system doesn't exist in the same way anyone in UK can call himself whatever he wants and open shop. T

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JBaymore    1,432
I thought I wonder what this designation means in the pottery or ceramic world?

 

Absolutely nothing.

 

Who gets to call themselves a "master potter."

 

Anyone who decides to do so.

 

 

Really it is a totally meaningless term in our society. It is a holdeover from the older European Guild system..... when it did have a meaning. (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master)

 

best,

 

..................john

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Nelly    16
I thought I wonder what this designation means in the pottery or ceramic world?

 

Absolutely nothing.

 

Who gets to call themselves a "master potter."

 

Anyone who decides to do so.

 

 

Really it is a totally meaningless term in our society. It is a holdeover from the older European Guild system..... when it did have a meaning. (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master)

 

best,

 

..................john

 

 

Dear John,

 

Ah...now that makes sense. Total sense. Now I get it. At the time I was introduced to this term, I was working as a type of apprentice for a guy in exchange for free clay and use of his studio. I just had to keep the place clean, do some sales and try to make his pots. He called himself a master potter. I remember then thinking...and what makes you think you are one? You did your degree in psychology and you just started potting a short time ago?? The idea of it being a holdeover or hangover from the old Guild system makes total sense. Got it!! In a sense, he could use this term in its truest sense as I was a type of apprentice and he did have a hold over my learning and advancement in his studio.

 

Nelly

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Idaho Potter    62

I think I'll go with John on this. Just as our electricians and plumbers go through apprentice, journeyman, master, so did the guilds of old. Back in the day, there were guilds for everything, from candlemaking to sculpture; from carpentry to weaving; from bookbinding to printing. That was how people learned the skills needed to work their way up the social and economic ladders. As an apprentice, you became familiar with the tools of the trade (usually by having to clean up after the master) and would occasionally get to help a journeyman on small jobs. As a journeyman you were given jobs to do with limited supervision and a final check to make sure it was done properly. As a master you taught and had the final say on work done under your guidance.

 

Next time I hear someone call themselves a master (whatever), I'll ask with whom they apprenticed.

 

Shirley

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Lucille Oka    16

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

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OffCenter    82

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

 

 

 

The above just goes to further prove that you can give the term "Master Potter" any definition you want which makes it meaningless. One person's master potter is another person's belly laugh.

 

Jim

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Pres    896

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

 

 

 

The above just goes to further prove that you can give the term "Master Potter" any definition you want which makes it meaningless. One person's master potter is another person's belly laugh.

 

Jim

 

 

I am doomed to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. At the same time, damn I am sooo happy in what I do do.

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Benzine    610

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

 

 

 

The above just goes to further prove that you can give the term "Master Potter" any definition you want which makes it meaningless. One person's master potter is another person's belly laugh.

 

Jim

 

 

I am doomed to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. At the same time, damn I am sooo happy in what I do do.

 

 

I'm with you Pres. I don't know if it's just me, or if that's all part of being a high school art teacher. We teach so many subjects, that it's very difficult to focus on one. I will say however, the students probably think we are "Masters".

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Pres    896

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

 

 

 

The above just goes to further prove that you can give the term "Master Potter" any definition you want which makes it meaningless. One person's master potter is another person's belly laugh.

 

Jim

 

 

I am doomed to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. At the same time, damn I am sooo happy in what I do do.

 

 

I'm with you Pres. I don't know if it's just me, or if that's all part of being a high school art teacher. We teach so many subjects, that it's very difficult to focus on one. I will say however, the students probably think we are "Masters".

 

 

That could be in a good sense or in a bad sense! Owners of slaves were called "masters" too!

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Benzine    610

I don't mean to go against the grain here but we know that there are Master Potters. It is the ease and expertise by which they create their work and the dedication to perfection about what they do. They are the experts. We neophytes are currently doing what they have done.

 

Some Master Potter’s have written accurate books on techniques to share their acquired knowledge. The Master Potter if pressed, will have a simple philosophy about what he or she does and can relay what is technical in laymen’s terms.

 

I am sure there are some folks who would like to be called a Master Potter and they try to do everything except the work so that they can achieve that status, but they can be seen through. They begin to believe their own press after awhile. But their work suffers because the focus is not on the work but on achieving fame.

 

And somewhere along the time line of history the Master Potters will be remembered for the work they have done and what they have contributed that is long lasting for the profession.

 

 

 

 

 

The above just goes to further prove that you can give the term "Master Potter" any definition you want which makes it meaningless. One person's master potter is another person's belly laugh.

 

Jim

 

 

I am doomed to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. At the same time, damn I am sooo happy in what I do do.

 

 

I'm with you Pres. I don't know if it's just me, or if that's all part of being a high school art teacher. We teach so many subjects, that it's very difficult to focus on one. I will say however, the students probably think we are "Masters".

 

 

That could be in a good sense or in a bad sense! Owners of slaves were called "masters" too!

 

 

I guess it depends on which students of mine, you ask. Do you know, that I have the gall, to ask my students, to clean up after themselves?! That's right, I make them do physical labor, in order to return my room and associated equipment, back in the condition it was in, prior to their class.

 

Some of my students, are also under the assumption, that my room is a democracy, especially in regards to what music I have on the radio. I tell them, that it is a dictatorship, or at very least a monarchy. They are in the room for part of their day, I am there all day. So, when it comes to the music, and room temperature, I'm open to suggestions for changes to either, but there's a good chance I'll just stick with what is more comfortable for me.

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JBaymore    1,432
That's right, I make them do physical labor, in order to return my room and associated equipment, back in the condition it was in, prior to their class

 

Cruel and unusual punishment. It should be illegal! ;)src="http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif">

 

 

best,

 

...................john

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Pres    896
That's right, I make them do physical labor, in order to return my room and associated equipment, back in the condition it was in, prior to their class

 

Cruel and unusual punishment. It should be illegal! ;)src="http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif">

 

 

best,

 

...................john

 

 

Physical labor, dictatorship, you own your room! I know where you are at. At the end of every period there were 5 jobs that had to be completed. These jobs rotated from table to table. I had 6 workbench type tables, and 5 jobs, so some weeks they would have no job. My jobs were done after their own tables were cleared of working tools and materials. Jobs included Tables, Floor, Sink, Tools, and Glazing area. I know that today the floors with a broom are a no no, but as we did it every period, not much dust. floor was mopped every night by the maintenance staff. Tables were washed with bucket after spray on of water/pinesol solution. Tools was to make certain the peg board of tools was organized correctly with shadowed peg areas to proper tool and all were there. Other areas are pretty self explanatory.

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It is just so silly. Titles are I guess at times ok, for instance I am a professor and I do profess. And I do know allot about art and the media of ceramics, technically, conceptually and historically and therefore I do profess on all of it, but I also continually add to my knowledge. But as John said these titles are old designations and may have had their place in a time when the master was the boss. So in a contemporary sense we are masters of our work, but quite often our work shows a specific level of skill in manipulation of the material and knowledge about the contemporary and historical use of the media and yes peers and people who have more knowledge can analyze this critically. How our work may represent and convey social constructs, or achieve a certain aesthetic value, or how the work may serve its utilitarian purpose and how well it does that, or all of the above can be analyzed and may show a lack of skill in a technique or may be redundant, trendy, weak or contrived in the expression and or aesthetic of the piece, or the desired conceptual concerns are unclear, too vague or to trite, or un-researched and ill-informed. So, value of the work we do can be critically analyzed and this can be done through objective and non-objective observations. But who is deemed the authority to title an artist as a master? Certainly not the artist, he or she who claims they themselves are masters are maybe only trying to inflate their egos or the value of their work.

 

 

 

I think calling yourself a master is somewhat pretentious and being called one to me is almost embarrassing. Yes I have my Masters of Fine Arts, which is no small matter, but that piece of paper does not make me a master. I recall a moment about 15 years ago when I was doing demonstrationsfor a big event at the Bray and the signs leading people to my demonstration said Master Potter Stephen Robison and arrows point people the way, ###### I was only out of grad school a year at that time and I was not even close to the skill based or conceptual level I am at now and I would again by no means declare myself a master presently,,, or ever for that matter. I did go around and change the signs by the way. So maybe when I reach 92 I may get close to mastering the media but I doubt it. Maybe the title is not even useful in this day and age as John pointed out. However again, I think it is important to point out there are levels of skill that some people in ceramics have not reached, nor may ever reach, while some others have reached both a level of skill and communication with their work that is at the top of our field. I hasten to say that people at the top of their game search for that next level and are challenging themselves all the time, and generally don't feel they are "Masters".

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Benzine    610

This talk of "Master Artisans" makes me think of the educational concept of Mastery Learning. Each class/ unit has a set of concepts the students, have to master before they move on. Many districts have gone towards this, and my own district is considering it as well. It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

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JBaymore    1,432

Stephen,

 

That is an absolutely (if I might say it ;)src="http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif"> ) "masterful" posting on the subject above. Articulate and clear.

 

I deliberately waited until I was 60 years old before scheduling a solo exhibition in Japan. That age is basically the point in Japan when a craftsperson is felt to possibly have acquired enough skills and experience to "know what he/she is doing". It is the beginning of your second time around the Zodiac cycle also...so is a "big deal"; you are conceptually re-born. I was very glad that I did so.

 

It is only in the past few years that I feel that I am finally getting a grip on this crazy craft...... and I have been working basically full time with clay since the mid-60's. And I too would not call myself a "Master" yet. The more I work and explore in this field...... the more I realize that there is to "master", and know, and to try. Sometimes it seems that the "goal posts" keep moving further and further away. But that is what keeps us involved, creative, and alive, isn't it?

 

The infinte truth of that old saying becomes clearer and clearer: "Clay is long. Life is short."

 

best,

 

 

......................john

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JBaymore    1,432
It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

 

We (at least here in America) have a great trend running of de-valuing terms and standards. Everyone has to have a grandiose title. Everyone is a winner at everything. The concept of "mastery" used to imply a great depth of experience and knowledge in a given subject well beyond the pale. Now it simply tends to mean that someone can add 2+2 and come up with 4 (most of the time).

 

We now tend to teach to tests and score them with tightly defined "rubrics" breaking thngs into tinly little measureable discrete chunks. Unfortunately, we don't seem to teach people to THINK much anymore.

 

As this thread implies... the term "Master" has no real significance anymore.

 

best,

 

.....................john

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Thanks John, That means allot coming from you. One thing Clary Illian said that sticks in my mind and may be relevant is that "Once the commitment is made and the hard work embraced, the life of a potter is entirely sustaining" The age of the artist is not as important as it is in other cultures and the time involved in the media is not a given that one will gain the level they want to achieve but the fact that it is in the journey that we hopefully grow. I love the quote, "Clay is Long and Life is Short". It is in the journey that we hopefully grow, of course that is not always true and a period of stasis is reached several times along that journey, some never get out of that period. Knowing when we are at a certain plateau, and needing to jump off and try and fly higher is sometimes hard to discern. Also sometimes when we see where we are, we are just scared of the jump. The fact is there is possibility you will fall flat and have to climb back up. But isn't that where the challenges become a part of the child like or virginal excitement that get our juices flowing or our visions revitalized. There of course is also growth in our work that is not made by leaps, bounds or large growth gaps and there are those times of small forward movements that fine tune our work. For me these nuanced growth rings in my tree come when i am exposed to more work from history and contemporary practitioners who are my peers and whom I am lucky enough to drink out of, eat from and or live with and reflect upon. Living a little with our own work, (not in a narcissistic way), also helps us to evaluate it and see its small or large negatives that we can hopefully change slightly, and we can if we can see them. I think of Yanagi SÅetsu and his writings on seeing and knowing. A handle that is off a little or a physical or visual balance point that needs tweaking can be examined with scrutiny.

 

Again the fact that "Clay is Long" and has been here a long time, sometimes the reinvention of the wheel is not needed. Many often neglect the work that stood the test of time and was vetted through that process of use and domestic needs. Many have embraced our beautiful and long history of making objects of use and objects of representation and expression, and those people in our filed are the people I owe so much to. Has our field added quite a bit to those traditions, certainly we have and we will continue to add to this rich and diverse history. We also have an obligation to educate the public on why we are important and how clay has been and will be used to express everything from our deep concerns about how we eat and drink, to our views of the social issues of the day and of the future. It seems grandiose to some that art in general has a place in the world outside of decoration, but that is a short sided attitude. Keep up the good fight!

 

 

 

Stephen,

 

That is an absolutely (if I might say it ;)src="http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif"> ) "masterful" posting on the subject above. Articulate and clear.

 

I deliberately waited until I was 60 years old before scheduling a solo exhibition in Japan. That age is basically the point in Japan when a craftsperson is felt to possibly have acquired enough skills and experience to "know what he/she is doing". It is the beginning of your second time around the Zodiac cycle also...so is a "big deal"; you are conceptually re-born. I was very glad that I did so.

 

It is only in the past few years that I feel that I am finally getting a grip on this crazy craft...... and I have been working basically full time with clay since the mid-60's. And I too would not call myself a "Master" yet. The more I work and explore in this field...... the more I realize that there is to "master", and know, and to try. Sometimes it seems that the "goal posts" keep moving further and further away. But that is what keeps us involved, creative, and alive, isn't it?

 

The infinte truth of that old saying becomes clearer and clearer: "Clay is long. Life is short."

 

best,

 

 

......................john

 

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Benzine    610
It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

 

We (at least here in America) have a great trend running of de-valuing terms and standards. Everyone has to have a grandiose title. Everyone is a winner at everything. The concept of "mastery" used to imply a great depth of experience and knowledge in a given subject well beyond the pale. Now it simply tends to mean that someone can add 2+2 and come up with 4 (most of the time).

 

We now tend to teach to tests and score them with tightly defined "rubrics" breaking thngs into tinly little measureable discrete chunks. Unfortunately, we don't seem to teach people to THINK much anymore.

 

As this thread implies... the term "Master" has no real significance anymore.

 

best,

 

.....................john

 

 

I very much agree John. Though I will say, administrators and educational "experts" do put emphasis on the higher orders of thinking, like analysis and synthesis. That's why art classes generally receive high marks in those areas. All we do is analyze and synthesize. Sadly, many of my students keep coming to me, to ask what they need to change, or whether or not they are finished. I try to put it back on them, by asking, if they have met the standard, of what I asked them to do? Many of them can't tell. They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I could go on and on on the subject, but I'm getting off topic enough.

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Pres    896
It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

 

We (at least here in America) have a great trend running of de-valuing terms and standards. Everyone has to have a grandiose title. Everyone is a winner at everything. The concept of "mastery" used to imply a great depth of experience and knowledge in a given subject well beyond the pale. Now it simply tends to mean that someone can add 2+2 and come up with 4 (most of the time).

 

We now tend to teach to tests and score them with tightly defined "rubrics" breaking thngs into tinly little measureable discrete chunks. Unfortunately, we don't seem to teach people to THINK much anymore.

 

As this thread implies... the term "Master" has no real significance anymore.

 

best,

 

.....................john

 

 

I very much agree John. Though I will say, administrators and educational "experts" do put emphasis on the higher orders of thinking, like analysis and synthesis. That's why art classes generally receive high marks in those areas. All we do is analyze and synthesize. Sadly, many of my students keep coming to me, to ask what they need to change, or whether or not they are finished. I try to put it back on them, by asking, if they have met the standard, of what I asked them to do? Many of them can't tell. They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I could go on and on on the subject, but I'm getting off topic enough.

 

 

They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I think you may have hit it on the head. Students any more don't understand that being wrong is not wrong. They are too afraid to fail, failure to them is a dead end. For us, failure is just another step in the process to approach what we are trying to do, and sometimes our failures are our greatest accomplishments.

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Benzine    610
It seems like a good idea in theory, but like I've said to some of my colleagues, "How can I expect my students to master a concept/ skill, that I haven't even mastered?"

 

We (at least here in America) have a great trend running of de-valuing terms and standards. Everyone has to have a grandiose title. Everyone is a winner at everything. The concept of "mastery" used to imply a great depth of experience and knowledge in a given subject well beyond the pale. Now it simply tends to mean that someone can add 2+2 and come up with 4 (most of the time).

 

We now tend to teach to tests and score them with tightly defined "rubrics" breaking thngs into tinly little measureable discrete chunks. Unfortunately, we don't seem to teach people to THINK much anymore.

 

As this thread implies... the term "Master" has no real significance anymore.

 

best,

 

.....................john

 

 

I very much agree John. Though I will say, administrators and educational "experts" do put emphasis on the higher orders of thinking, like analysis and synthesis. That's why art classes generally receive high marks in those areas. All we do is analyze and synthesize. Sadly, many of my students keep coming to me, to ask what they need to change, or whether or not they are finished. I try to put it back on them, by asking, if they have met the standard, of what I asked them to do? Many of them can't tell. They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I could go on and on on the subject, but I'm getting off topic enough.

 

 

They don't want to be wrong, and they are so used, to having a defined answer to every problem. I think you may have hit it on the head. Students any more don't understand that being wrong is not wrong. They are too afraid to fail, failure to them is a dead end. For us, failure is just another step in the process to approach what we are trying to do, and sometimes our failures are our greatest accomplishments.

 

 

And, in my opinion, much of that has to do, with the idea, that anything less than an "A", or perfect is a slap in the face. If you tell them, that something needs changes, or alterations, they get upset. They want want the quality grade, without the quality product, and no desire, to put the necessary work in, to achieve said quality product.

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