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#1 Benzine

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 11:30 PM

So I recently had a situation, where a student project had a defect during a firing, the thing is, it went according to my plan.

In other topics, there have been discussions of accidentally breaking a student's project, but have you ever damaged a student's project (for whatever reason) on purpose?

 

I'll start.  There have been a few projects over the years, where I questioned their intended use.  So I'd make some alterations pre-bisque, like small holes or "cracks"  Also I just don't allow any small bowl type object, with notches in the top.  I'll tell the students to get rid of them.  If they don't, I'd take a fettling knife to the pieces, and I am not careful, or neat about it.

 

In regards to the project, that inspired this topic, I had a student make a nice coil pot.  It had some nice additive elements, and the student put a lot of time, both into the building and glazing.  However, the student kept asking odd questions, that made it sound like they wanted to use the pot.  The project isn't meant to create functional wares.  The project in question, would not be functional, for any legit purpose.  The student was also very adamant about me glaze firing the project.  They really wanted it back.  This was before the Christmas break, so I asked, if it was going to be a gift.  They said no, so I inquired further about why they needed it so soon?  They just said, they really wanted it.  The final straw was, when a couple of the student's friends came to look at the project, with big grins on their face.  I asked them why.  They didn't say.

So I decided I needed to do something about it.  I wasn't going to break the project, but I wanted to make it non functional, for any conceivable purpose, besides being purely decorative.  So, I fired it one evening.  When I came back in the next day, the kiln was still around 300 F.  Not terribly hot, but probably a little too warm, to be set next to an open window, where the outside temperature is around 0 F.  Sure enough I hear "ping, ping, ping".  Moments later, hey look stress cracks!.....

I put the project back in the kiln, and when I unloaded the kiln during class, "Oh no, that's too bad....."  I assured them, the cracks wouldn't affect their grade, and it will still look quite nice. 

The student really wanted to find a way to fill the cracks.  I said there weren't any.  "Couldn't we put glaze in there"...NOPE!  And even worse, the student asked if they could come in next term, and make another coil project.  They even offered to pay for the materials.  I said, no.


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#2 nigich22

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 11:59 PM

clever



#3 justanassembler

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:03 AM

so they were making a bong/pipe?  why not just tell them that thats unacceptable, and that if you see something of that ilk being made, it will be promptly reclaimed?



#4 Benzine

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 08:18 AM

so they were making a bong/pipe?  why not just tell them that thats unacceptable, and that if you see something of that ilk being made, it will be promptly reclaimed?

 

 

I have no idea, if that's what they were making.  It wouldn't function as one, to my knowledge, because it lacked the extra opening(s).  However, I was worried that it would be modified, once they took it home. 

I did have a student years ago, who made a coil pot, with a small hole near the base.  I asked them why.  They said it was for "incense".  Why they needed to have a stick of incense stick out the bottom of a coil pot, they couldn't explain.  So the hole was filled in before bisque firing.

I have had students, in the past ask "How do you drill through ceramic?".  I never get an answer, as to why they'd need to.....  When I have any doubt, I will have them, or myself make the item not usable.  I learned this after my first year, first term of my first year actually.  I found out, that a student took a project home, and modified it into a bong.  So I called the student's Step Dad, who was a Guidance Counselor at a nearby school district.  He also owned the rental house, my wife and I lived in, so I knew him prior. 

The Police also looked into it, and they had tips, that other things were made, by a friend of the original student, like a ceramic box with "hidden compartments".  A student had tried to make a box with little drawers, but it was terribly constructed, and abandoned anyway.

 

Students really think that teachers are that oblivious.  I would guess that students have been trying make paraphernalia since Art has existed in schools.

 

One of the worst cases I saw, was when I was just a college student, observing at a local school.  According to the instructor there, students would put unsigned suspect wares on the shelves, hoping they'd be fired.  Then, once they were fired, the student(s) would snatch them up, when the instructor wasn't looking.  Keep in mind, this was unglazed bisque.  One student, who apparently decided that subtlety and covertness were overrated, made a bong-like vessel, in the shape of a mushroom.  And because, "Why not" the student signed the piece.  That school had a policy, and the police were called.  I'm not sure what happened beyond that.


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#5 Pres

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 09:40 AM

Ben, you knew I would be here on this one!  Yes, I have destroyed things of this nature before. However, I have not been sneeky about it very often. Few examples-#1 rule in my classroom was that all of the school rules and regs were followed. Therefore there could be no construction of bongs, ashtrays, or any other drug or smoking functional ware. I made a BIG point of it. First vase I found with a small hole in the side came out of the kiln, and in front of an entire class of students I explained that the beautiful vase with the shotgun hole in the side was illegal, and that in order not to have to turn the student in I only had one alternative-I dropped it! By the end of the day word got around that the crazy Mr Rice would destroy art projects if they were questionable. Over the years others tried, but I was not a dummy, and they paid in much the same way. I remember one that really thought they had me beat. They made the vase with coils, made a pipe that I didn't know about, put the pipe into the vase when the pot was green going on the shelf. I checked it out when loading as I checked all of the pots. When I saw the pipe I removed it, and noticed that the pipe was just barely coming out of the neck of the pot. So I put the pipe back inside, and fired the pot. After bisque, I checked again, and true enough the shrinkage fixed my problem-the pipe would not come out. I waited until I saw the frustrated group of students in the back of the room trying to get out the pipe, went back and told them I knew about their ruse. I also said that no harm done, as the pipe could stay in the vase, get fired and no problem. They were relieved. I noticed during the glaze fire loading that they had propped the pipe in such a manner that they could possibly break the vase and recover the pipe. I turned it over so that all of the pipe was in glaze, then added a little more glaze over top.

 

I was, I admit dictatorial, but my administration backed me up, and I documented each incident.
Early intervention and understanding often saved me years of questioning myself as to what was the right action to take.


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#6 Stephen Robison

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 10:26 AM

I would not be sneaky about it. I would educate the student on why things don't get fired or made in the first place. In the past I was sneaky. When I taught at VCU I did have a gal who made "bud vases". Holes place just right for the bowl slide and nicely placed car orator and they were made extremely well. It sanded me to toss them in the reclaim and watch them float and dissolve into oblivion. But I should have just pulled her aside and reiterated my lists of what can't be made. I have a page long handout explaining to students some of the rules around objects that are not appropriate for university level investigation. However now I am questioning the bong as an object. Hookahs are quite beautiful objects and do have some nice formal and technical complexities. I also live and teach in a state where these archaic rules against pot have been lifted. I have had beer stein assignments so now why not give an option of making smoking devises. Look at the beautiful history of the pipe and hookah. Something to chew on. What do you all think? Teapots are quite often made by potters who don't drink tea so why not other utilitarian objects such as bongs? I still draw the line at cheesy beer mugs that say bet you can't on them and coffee cups that say I love you mom or pot puri burners and candle holders that have cute little hallmark hearts pieced or painted on them. But beautifully formal and or conceptual ideas worked into hookahs, hum in CO or WA why not. Even though the law is on my side am I in jeopardy of losing my job over it because an administrator or parent brings a big stink on me?

So anyhow not sure but I am pretty positive the best way to educate your student is to talk with them and not be sneaky. They don't learn and the chances of them being pissed at you are a little less if it is fully explained before they get a chance to waste their precious time on objects you don't find appropriate.

Of course if your teaching HS then there are even more rules needing to be set. If you are teaching adults it is a little different.
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#7 Benzine

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 10:39 AM

Yeah Pres, I knew you'd be all over this one, and figured you'd have a couple good stories.

 

Like I said, with this latest incident, the coil piece did not have a second opening.  It did have a narrow top though.  I also had two big decorative handles.  The handles were thing, and cracked, due to them shrinking at a different rate, than the rest of the piece.  The student was really upset by this, because they wanted to be able to pick the piece up by the handles.  I inquired about this, and once again, no good answer, as to why you'd need to pick it up, in such a manner.  They did fill the cracks in with glaze, but I still noted the handles were not functional, due to the angle, thickness, etc. 

They also really wanted the ware to be food/ drink safe, so they coated the inside with glaze really well.  I also noted, that due to the form, glazing the inside well, would be almost impossible, with our glazes (they didn't fully smooth the inside coils, so there were gaps there, the opening was tiny so you couldn't visually inspect the inside glazing, and this is compounded  by all the curves the form had).

Once again, why would a decorative form like this, need to be safe for liquids on the inside?????.....

So I'm not sure if they wanted it to be a bong, or a "chugging" vessel.  It doesn't matter, because I don't allow to make students to make either.  I've refused to fire wheel projects, if I even hear a student joke about using it for drinking alcohol out of it, or using a bowl as an ashtray, even sans notches.  I tell them, if they want any of that crap, go buy it elsewhere, but my class and materials won't be a part of it.

 

Another teacher I know, used to let students fully complete the suspect projects, then break them.  As amusing as that is, I don't want to waste the materials, nor do I want to have the reputation as a clumsy art teacher, who will accidentally drop or otherwise break projects.

 

What's interesting is, with pretty much all the students, who try to make bongs, they make a really tiny opening.  Now while, I'm not an expert, due to my never having smoked anything, or used the corresponding "equipment", I don't think most the students know what an actual bong actually looks like.  Some of it, is just the students trying to get away with something, "Teenage rebellion against 'The Man'".  I mean, I've known that I'm "The Man" for a while, but I'm glad they agree.


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#8 Benzine

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:12 AM

Yeah Stephen, in the future, I do need to be more upfront to the individual students, when I have suspicions.  I guess I don't want to offend someone on a hunch.  If a student puts a hole towards the base, then I would not tiptoe around the issue.  But sans the second hole, I can't really prove intention.  It was just in this case, where I had their behavior led me to believe differently.  So I simply made some last minute alterations, that in no way hurt the piece as a nice decorative object.  It just made it unable to hold liquid, which it shouldn't be anyway. 

 

I was pretty close to calling in a couple administrators, and getting their point of view.  My Assistant Principal is also our A.D., which would have been a nice bonus, as the student in question, is a star athlete.  A star athlete, who missed some games earlier in the year for underage drinking.  I was also going to call his Mom, and give her a heads up, as she was the one who turned him in for drinking.  If I hear anything else about the project, I will call home.

 

When it comes to ashtray looking items, I am very upfront about it.  I tell them on the first day, that they must comply with the standards set by the district and myself, both in terms of subject matter depicted and item function.

In fact, it was just last week, that I looked over and a student was modifying the top of one of their wheel bowls, with the telltale ashtray notches.  I said their name aloud, and said, "You know that I'm not going to fire that right?"  They said it was just a design, that looked "cool", I said I didn't care, and they wouldn't have to be removed, before I would fire it.  I saw it a couple days later, with the notches removed.

 

I always have students try to justify the creation of ashtrays.  First Excuse:  "It's for my parents, aunt, grandma, etc!"  For one, they are most likely lying.  Second, I personally don't promote smoking at any age.  Third, My district doesn't promote or condone smoking, especially by its students. 

Second Excuse:  "Any thing could be an ashtray.  The coil pot, slab box, or wheel thrown bowl we made, could be an ashtray!"  I say yes, they could be, but were not designed for that purpose.  Ashtrays are by design small, so they are easy to carry, move and not in the way.  Generally, no one is going to set an eight inch coil pot on a table, for the purpose of disposing of cigarette ash.  The same goes for slab boxes.  In regards to wheel thrown bowls, it has other functions.  If a student decides they want it to be an ashtray, there is not much I can do to stop them, other than stop doing wheel work.  However, an ashtray can only, effectively, be an ashtray.  A small dish, with notches cut in the wall, isn't good for much else.  They could argue it could be an incense burner, which some have, but then I point out that A:  you only need one holder spot for incense, not a half dozen, and B: you shouldn't burn incense because it smells terrible.


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#9 Pres

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 01:15 PM

I had a rule up front, not ashtrays or dog dishes. This was because as I told them that they could get an ashtray or a dog dish at nearly any 5&10 for little or nothing. The second point I made was that this was an art class, and even though we were not possibly making art when making functional type ware, we were aspiring to.

On the vase, I would have had problems if no secondary hole. What could I prove? I moved to the mid range stoneware because I liked it better for myself. However, the durability and the vitrification of the finished work was a plus. Interestingly, moving to the mid range made it almost impossible to drill by someone with "normal" tools, thus unable to place a shotgun hole. Even my Father found that out when he tried to drill a few of my casseroles to use as bonsai tree planters.

Other end of this, like you I have never. HOwever, I did smoke a pipe for about 10 years until my Grand Dad got cancer. Quit the next day. I found out about all sorts of undercounter goods from a student in grad program at PSU. He was making beautiful hand made pipes with pulled stems, multiple bowls, bongs etc. He explained the mechanics to me one day over chocolate milk from the creamery(standard lunch at PSU). At the same time, he told me if a kid really wanted to be smart about things, he could just make a teapot.

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#10 Chilly

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 04:48 PM

 Interestingly, moving to the mid range made it almost impossible to drill by someone with "normal" tools, thus unable to place a shotgun hole. Even my Father found that out when he tried to drill a few of my casseroles to use as bonsai tree planters..

I've had exactly the same problem with my dad.


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#11 TJR

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 07:37 PM

I made the mistake early on in my teaching career of saying;"If you can get it by me, then you can keep it."

So, one of these guys made a solid looking skull. His mistake was asking too often if  was "ready" Because it was a pretty solid lump of clay, I was drying it slowly so it wouldn't blow up. After yet another quiry about it's readiness, I became suspicious. I carefully checked the top of the sculpture. Sure enough, buried inside vertically, was a small hash pipe. I fired the skull, but the pipe mysteriously disappeared. He could not really ask for it, as he was not supposed to be making one.

Now I just say;"No pipes, drug parphrenalia, sexual organs, ash trays or snakes. Or bongs.

But why Mr. Roberts?

Because we are a publicly funded school, and drug use is illegal. Besides, snakes are too easy.

TJR.



#12 Babs

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 01:02 AM

Devious Benzine, and you know sometimes you just don't have time for the dialogue, or the same old, same old, teachers from another planet, never young.

Sometimes it makes you smile to let them put the effort in, beavering away instead of resisting the experience, and at least you had something to assess them on! And then do what you have to do to make it not work for them. You can be hauled around if you suggest that they are up to no good, and have to spend time justifying yourself to whoever listens to the sob story.

Feeling a bit cynical today.

Once had clay diminish in quantity, home science teacher found a lot of bongs in oven, took them out when dry, oven temp 1oo Cdegs  I had taught them well, no fast drying. We let them take them home, ie turned into the blind idiots, ......... Muddy bedrooms??



#13 BeckyH

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:06 AM

Deliberately destroying a piece without telling the person who made it why it was destroyed is just being a ########. Especially through deception. If the school you work at won't let students make certain things, tell them so, then tell them what the piece they made isn't acceptable.
The scenario as described is conniving, underhanded crap.
Also, how much is it your duty to police what your students do with their pieces after they leave your studio? You could hardly be found complicit in any criminal action, which I could see as the only real reason to care. Smoking is not yet illegal in the US, so making ashtrays shouldn't be any problem. No one is going to make you smoke by building an ashtray in your studio, and you aren't going to get them to quit.
(I remember being in grade school, and one of the most promoted objects to make was an ashtray for mom and dad.)

#14 Pres

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:27 AM

Sorry Becky, but I heartliy disagree with you. As a teacher we are entrusted with the rules of the district and the building. If certain devices are illegal in school, then they were illegal in my classroom. At the same time, as Babs has said dialogue is time consuming at times. Best policy is to set the rules and expectations up front and to deal with it as you go, but sometimes you have to make a judgement call that maybe does not fit the rules. This idea that getting away with anything without consequences does not prepare people for the real world.


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#15 Benzine

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:11 PM

Devious Benzine, and you know sometimes you just don't have time for the dialogue, or the same old, same old, teachers from another planet, never young.

Sometimes it makes you smile to let them put the effort in, beavering away instead of resisting the experience, and at least you had something to assess them on! And then do what you have to do to make it not work for them. You can be hauled around if you suggest that they are up to no good, and have to spend time justifying yourself to whoever listens to the sob story.

Feeling a bit cynical today.

Once had clay diminish in quantity, home science teacher found a lot of bongs in oven, took them out when dry, oven temp 1oo Cdegs  I had taught them well, no fast drying. We let them take them home, ie turned into the blind idiots, ......... Muddy bedrooms??

Devious, yeah maybe.  I like to just think of it a justifiably clever.

 

What's this about a home science teacher?  I'm guessing that someone was trying to fire clay bongs in their home oven, not realizing that it's not hot enough to even begin to turn it to ceramic?

I have had students ask to take unfired clay home before.  Nothing suspect, just little figures they made.  I tell them, that it will always just be "mud", and the moment it gets wet, it will be mush.

 

Sorry Becky, but I heartliy disagree with you. As a teacher we are entrusted with the rules of the district and the building. If certain devices are illegal in school, then they were illegal in my classroom. At the same time, as Babs has said dialogue is time consuming at times. Best policy is to set the rules and expectations up front and to deal with it as you go, but sometimes you have to make a judgement call that maybe does not fit the rules. This idea that getting away with anything without consequences does not prepare people for the real world.

Well put Pres.

Becky, was what I did a little underhanded?  Maybe.  Am I a "whatever word the board filter censored out"?  Probably, I've been called many things, many are true.  But three things I've never been called are an enabler, uncaring or naive.  I care about a student's well being.  I care that they are law abiding.  And I will not look the other way, when they are doing something they shouldn't. 

I asked the student multiple times, why they needed to have their purely decorative piece, be able to do certain things.  I never got a straight answer.  Had they explained, I really want this in time for Christmas, because it's a gift for someone, and the inside needs to be glazed well, because it will hold water as a vase.  That would at least be plausible, though I still would not have believed it, due to the narrow top, terrible vase form.

I am very up front about my policy.  I say it the first day of class, and reiterate it throughout the course. 

This student was just trying to get away with it, for whatever reason.  Like I said, the specifications, don't seem to be optimal for a good functioning bong, so I think it was mostly to show off, to friends in and outside of the class. 

Regardless of their intent, I didn't like what I was hearing, from the student and others.  Because of that, I wanted to make sure, that the piece couldn't be used for anything illegal, once it left my classroom.  The piece was not destroyed.  Not even close.  It was just made, so that it could not longer hold liquid, which it shouldn't have been able to any way.  The cracks are barely noticeable.  In fact, while the student was trying to get a piece of the project unstuck, due to glaze, they broke a chunk of the decorative elements off.  I helped them glue it back on. 

 

Was my approach the best?  Maybe not.  But I would rather  proceed as I did, rather than get a call from a parent and/ or an administrator, asking me "Why I let a student make such a thing!"


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#16 Benzine

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:34 PM

I had a rule up front, not ashtrays or dog dishes. This was because as I told them that they could get an ashtray or a dog dish at nearly any 5&10 for little or nothing. The second point I made was that this was an art class, and even though we were not possibly making art when making functional type ware, we were aspiring to.

On the vase, I would have had problems if no secondary hole. What could I prove? I moved to the mid range stoneware because I liked it better for myself. However, the durability and the vitrification of the finished work was a plus. Interestingly, moving to the mid range made it almost impossible to drill by someone with "normal" tools, thus unable to place a shotgun hole. Even my Father found that out when he tried to drill a few of my casseroles to use as bonsai tree planters.

Other end of this, like you I have never. HOwever, I did smoke a pipe for about 10 years until my Grand Dad got cancer. Quit the next day. I found out about all sorts of undercounter goods from a student in grad program at PSU. He was making beautiful hand made pipes with pulled stems, multiple bowls, bongs etc. He explained the mechanics to me one day over chocolate milk from the creamery(standard lunch at PSU). At the same time, he told me if a kid really wanted to be smart about things, he could just make a teapot.

Very true Pres.  Like I said, I don't think many of them, know what a proper pipe or bong looks like.  This is not something I will ever point out.  The good thing about teapots, is that they take a lot of work to construct.  In my class, the only project that would give them the opportunity to make a teapot, is on the wheel.  They have to make three pieces on the wheel, but I tell them, if they make a teapot, I would count that as all three (body, lid, spout).  In my years teaching, I've only had a hand full of students take on that task, and none of them, gave me the impression they were going to smoke out of it. 

 

I made the mistake early on in my teaching career of saying;"If you can get it by me, then you can keep it."

So, one of these guys made a solid looking skull. His mistake was asking too often if  was "ready" Because it was a pretty solid lump of clay, I was drying it slowly so it wouldn't blow up. After yet another quiry about it's readiness, I became suspicious. I carefully checked the top of the sculpture. Sure enough, buried inside vertically, was a small hash pipe. I fired the skull, but the pipe mysteriously disappeared. He could not really ask for it, as he was not supposed to be making one.

Now I just say;"No pipes, drug parphrenalia, sexual organs, ash trays or snakes. Or bongs.

But why Mr. Roberts?

Because we are a publicly funded school, and drug use is illegal. Besides, snakes are too easy.

TJR.

 

Wow, now that's clever!  Hiding something in something else.  That's like what smugglers do....At least in the movies....

I've honestly never had an issue with students trying to make sexual organs...though they will fight back a giggle, when I show them how to pull handles...  They also seem to think that clay coming out of an extruder looks like something defecating.  Honestly, I think that's a bit of a reach.

I let students make snakes, just not the type, where they use a strand or two.  They actually have to build a hollow coil built piece.


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#17 TJR

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 02:31 PM

Started my clay class today with Gr.11's. Actually we started yesterday with sketches but today I broke out the clay. A very nice E.A.[educational assistant] came by with a special needs student to deliver some free papers for reading. After she left, I looked over, and one of my hoons had mad a very large ###### esq form, and had it lying in front of him.

Forgot to say no dildos.

Clay class is usually good for these guys as it requires manual dexterity. But that's a stereotype isn't ?

TJR.



#18 Babs

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

Stereotype indeed, but given that there are days like this when working with students , it's great to see a little humour in the activity. Humour can often save the day, and experience lets us react differently to the same situation depending on the students..

After three lengthy meetings and consultative processes that resulted after I "moved a grade 11 male student and a grade 8 female student away from a secluded area of the yard into the main quadrangle. I saw this action as duty of care, the Grade 11 student saw this action as impinging on his right to be where he saw fit. I now take slightly more subtle avenues to resolve situations. He took my concern re. his hanging out with the junior student as an accusation of paedophilia!! Word never crossed my mind or lips.. So now when I go backinto schools, I set design projects with clear specifications, grade them all the way through, manual dexterity etc!!, and then, if the end result is way off the requirements, I don't let them go further, explaining where their effort has fallen short of the design brief..  This is done step by step, always relating back to the limitations set in the unit of work.

Nothing personal, no angst, out front, rest of class part of the critique process.

Gives more time to facilitate the learning process of less deviant souls.



#19 Pres

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

I usually mentioned to the class that this sort of activity on the part of the mail was to mask feelings on inadequacy. No more male organs by males at least, never saw a female make one.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#20 Babs

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 05:28 PM

Also, how much is it your duty to police what your students do with their pieces after they leave your studio? You could hardly be found complicit in any criminal action,

Don't know where you come from, but in Australia duty of care for teachers and other professionals are 24/7. Down the town at weekend see someone/ something not quite... you as a teacher must react , seen to be negligent if you do not. Due diligence , duty of care is with you as :) long as you teach. mandatory reporting of incidents, your concern... no turning the blind eye.

FOr interest sake it is possible to drill holes in ceramic, with a masonry bit  and a hammer drill, have  done so to turn pots into planters, but caution,  when th drill pierces the pot, the pressure you are placing on the pot can allow the drill to suddenly descend and smash to piece, which prob. should have been hammered in the first place!

 

Benzine, you always suck me in by your pedagogical writings, I am meant to this year be focussing on pottery and becoming less reactive, please , for  my sake, tone down your posts :D






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