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Benzine

Oops How Did That Happen?

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I just think…. after all the bongs i made in high school out of 2 liter bottles, pvc pipes, etc etc… (you name it, it can be made into a bong.. as long as it's hollow) I think back about how good it is that I didn't take ceramics in high school. Kids don't care if it's "proper".. as long as it works. Haha! Now that I have the capability, I have no interest. I did come across a person who has made quite a business for themselves making anatomy shaped items.  I think about how I could make a replica of the sculpture in "a clockwork orange" … but I would have a lot of explaining to do when my high school and middle school daughters discover what mom is making in the basement.  

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I remember the days adding that object secretly to the bisque shelf in hope that it would come out the other side. Mine always ended up too small :( I think like you rebby I did not have the skill I do now to make a good one.

 

The first thing my ceramics teacher did was to let us model anything we liked to get it over and done with. I think clay and pottery brings stoners along, most potters I have met have at one time or do smoke pot.

 

I understand being a teacher brings other responsibilities that you have to uphold but I don't like the idea of teachers deliberately sabotaging projects. Sure you can stop them poisoning themselves with glazes but humanity just love to take drugs.

 

Hey, it is all personal opinion to what you want to allow your students to make. 

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Babs    387

Sometimes in a full on teaching schedule, esp. a practical one, you do what you have to do . Yes, given a lot of time to speculate on the outcomes for school populaion if you knowingly fire stuff such as bongs, and with the time sp[ent explaining the brief given, techniques required etc, and still some student wants to continue down his very own path, then the end resultt in this case hurt no one but Benzine, in that iI feel reading his posts he would not have taken this action lightly. He prob kept thinking to the end that this student would see the light then self govern. Didn't so helped him on the right path.. 

Could have sent him to the counsellor or Principal I guess. 29 other kids in class, get on with it!

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Pres    896

I remember the first time I saw handles demonstrated in college. The prof was very suggestive about it, and later had the gall to ask out girls that pulled the best handles! Remember it was the early 70's, but inappropriate is. . .inappropriate.  Later when I did my own demonstrations I would keep the poker face, act really innocent when they would giggle or make comments about how well and fast I was at it. The only thing that I said that could of been suggestive was that if you pulled it too hard it would break off, or if you pulled too soft it would never grow. Caress it, and you would get it to do what you wanted to. I would then answer the question of why you would want to pull handles instead of making coils by planting the root on the table, and wrapping the pulled handle into an elaborate figure 8 or so. They did get the point, and it was a popular demo for some reason or other. . . When in my own studio years ago, I have had female friends in, that find handle pulling. . . interesting to say the least.

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docweathers    79

When sanctioning kids you have to be very careful that you're not at the same time socially reinforcing the behavior that you're trying to stop. Almost any dialogue you, the high status person... The Man, have around inappropriate behaviors can actually reinforce the behavior even though your content is negative. Adults are too quick to explain things to kids that they already know on the assumption that the misbehavior is because of lack of knowledge. The implicit  assumption is that at some point the kid will look up and sincerely say "Mr. Jones I'm so sorry I didn't know we weren't supposed to make bongs in here. I won't make any more".  If you are not adding some truly new information, your interaction with them is likely to be acting as a reinforcer of the very behavior you're trying to suppress. Also adolescents males like to mess with "the Man", to see if they can push the dominant male off the top of the rookery.

 

However, you want them to know that they are not successful at flying under the radar. This means that you have to communicate with them, but maybe not personally.  My recommendation would be at the beginning of the first day of class make a clear announcement about what the rules are about making paraphernalia etc,, so no one can say "I didn't know." 

 

When you load the kiln  anything that you deem inappropriate,  note the signature then drop it in a barrel so that it breaks. No, you can't be sure it is what you think it is.  But it's your job to make that call, and it's their job not to put you in a position where that's a tough call. They do so at their own risk.

 

Put the barrel of broken pots someplace near where the students enter. At the beginning of class, in the very unemotional matter-of-fact tone say something like, "when loading the kiln, I noticed a number of pieces that in my judgment were inappropriate. They are in the barrel over there. You are more than welcome to retrieve them."  Then say no more. Repeat as necessary.

 

Larry

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Benzine    611

Well David, from what I've seen, my students who have tried, have the basic concept down, but are really skipping over many points. For one, they think they just have to make a narrow pot, take it home and drill another hole. They don't both glazing the inside well, or in many cases,even building it well. Interestingly enough, the students who try to construct such a thing, don't put a lot of effort into it. Pretty shoddily built. Like I said, the student might have been making it to be the "Big man", or it was for someone else.

 

Rebby, your last post reminds me of a professional development session I went to. The local Cops, were talking about drugs and drug use. They showed some of the paraphernalia, that had been confiscated over the years. Not one ceramic item, but one hollowed out small piece of deer antler as a pipe, and a piece of milled aluminum, also a pipe, from Industrial Tech.

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I completely agree with benzine's position in eliminating and making a stand.  He may not be the most popular teacher, but at least he will have a job at the end of the day. You have to look out for yourself in situations like that first.  I think it would be somewhat inappropriate to knowingly allow the firing of those items. He could even say, "nothing personal, it's policy and I need my job".  As a former pothead, I understood that adults had things they had to do. Simply being relatable and honest with me about their position gained them respect in my eyes. 

 

I don't know if I would care as much about them making a body part. 

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Benzine    611

Doc, I'm actually fairly straight forward. I do indeed go over what they can and cannot make, including ashtrays drug related items and shot glasses.

 

If I know forma fact, a student is up to something, like notches on a bowl, a tiny glass, or a pot with one large opening and an oddly small opening, I address it flat out. In this latest case, it was nothing more than suspicion. No way to prove it, my inquiry got me no straight answers, so I just took a precaution.

 

I could just start requiring open form on the project. A bunch of holes won't hold liquid well.

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docweathers    79

Socratic Potter

 

I was in no sense criticizing your approach. You sound like an excellent art teacher. I wished I had one like you when I went to school.   I was just giving you and the others reading this thread a little of my thinking about how in general such things should be done and how they sometimes go awry. I was just using your example  to Illustrate it.

 

 I think hands-on arts like pottery are one of the most therapeutic things   schools can offer kids. Most troubled kids are much more capable than there given credit for. Art is often where this ability blossoms.

 

Or. maybe it's just because I'm on medical leave from pottery for a few weeks, and thus you're just getting an extra dose of me.

 

I guess there are two essential points to my diatribe:

1) you really don't have to prove anything to the kid. In your domain you are the benevolent dictator and you write the book of right and wrong. You do not need their approval or agreement. You simply need to be a wise, caring dictator, who is ultimately acting in their behalf.

 

2)  you are the most reinforcing person in the classroom. Your attention, however they get it, is going to reinforce what ever they did to get . Even if it's getting you to be grumpy with them in the form of your inquiry, you are still being socially  reinforcing.Isn't it strange how the same kids keep getting  in the same negative posture with authority figures. it's because their negative actions are effective at getting these important people to attend of them. For many of them, they have not discovered a more effective strategy. This means as a behavior manager you need to find the most clipped, non-reinforcing ways of extinguishing their negative behavior. Then be as effusive and ebullient as possible for their approximations of appropriate behavior.  Be their cheerleader when they carry the ball even a little ways.

 

Your supporter

 

Larry

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Benzine    611

Doc, I took no offense, I was just clarifying. I agree with what you said in both posts.

 

The male students, do like to try be "The Alpha dog", and it's tough to fight against the hormones in their brains making them do stupid things. I just make it clear, this is not a contest of who is in charge. It is my classroom, no contest required. Follow my rules or go elsewhere.

 

The interesting thing in this case Doc, is the student gets plenty of praise. They are a talented multi-sport athlete for one. Secondly, in my class they received plenty of positive feedback. In order for this student to get better overall, they are going to have to receive a whole lot of "No's" from a lot of people; parents, coaches, etc. Teachers can only do so much.

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BeckyH    42

I have no problem with deeming certain items unacceptable, and enforcing that stance.

I do have problems with deceptively destroying someone's project. If the piece is unacceptable, tell the student upfront and reclaim the clay. Publicly reinforcing the rules is a far more productive action to take. Treating students with the respect you would expect is the least you can do. And kids are under no obligation to satisfy your paranoia. The more you push them, the more likely they are to become ever more evasive.

(When I was at culinary school, there was one chef who hated parsley. If it showed up on a plate, you were in trouble!)

Also, as noted above, if a kid who wants a bong can't make one in ceramics class, she will use a coke can or a plastic bottle. You may be upholding school policy, or your own opinion on the matter of smoking, but you sure aren't stopping kids from getting high or smoking anything else.

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docweathers    79

This is not necessarily an issue of filling some overall deficit of reinforcement. Kids and about everyone else would like 36 hours a day of praise coddling and love. Even though, as in Socratic Potters example, the kid has plenty of other avenues for reinforcement, he is not going to miss any possibilities for more, even if that includes annoying his teacher. In adults, you can see this in a lot of public figures.

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docweathers    79

I completely agree with benzine's position in eliminating and making a stand.  He may not be the most popular teacher, but at least he will have a job at the end of the day. You have to look out for yourself in situations like that first.  I think it would be somewhat inappropriate to knowingly allow the firing of those items. He could even say, "nothing personal, it's policy and I need my job".  As a former pothead, I understood that adults had things they had to do. Simply being relatable and honest with me about their position gained them respect in my eyes. 

 

I don't know if I would care as much about them making a body part. 

lax teachers are not necessarily the most popular. As you point out, is a former pothead, respectfully setting limits actually earn the authority figure more respect. Many kids see limit setting as a form of caring about their welfare, though they certainly wouldn't dare show such a thing. I know many firm teachers who are very well-liked by students.

 

 When you are firm and respectful, You are also modeling how they should deal with transgressions against them. If you don't stand up for yourself, they may be less comfortable standing up for themselves.

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Benzine    611

The project wasn't destroyed, just altered. I would not destroy a project purposely, like some of my colleagues have, and say it was broke accidentally.

By the time I grew suspicious of the project, it had been fired, so it couldn't be reclaimed, or adjusted. From that point on, it was just a matter of having enough proof to accuse the student, or not letting them glaze the project and take it home. With the former, even with my suspicions, accusing the student, would have become a huge ordeal. With the latter, I would have had to explain why, they didn't get to glaze it, leading to the same issues.

I would not classify my suspicion as paranoia, but rather intuition. In my years of teaching, I have a pretty good sense of things. I am under no illusions that a student might get something by me at some point. But it won't be because of apathy on my part. It has happened before with a student, as I mentioned in my original post. I found at after the fact, but still called home, and had to talk to the police as well. Not the types of discussions I want.

Also, I'm more than aware that bongs, pipes, etc can be made out of almost anything. But the one thing they will not be made out of is materials from my classroom. Beyond the legality and liability issues, there are several other reasons I don't let students make such things. But if I ignored those things, and looked the other way, in regards to legality/ liability, I wouldn't have to worry about it much longer, because I'd be out of a job.

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TJR    359

Doc, I'm actually fairly straight forward. I do indeed go over what they can and cannot make, including ashtrays drug related items and shot glasses.

 

If I know forma fact, a student is up to something, like notches on a bowl, a tiny glass, or a pot with one large opening and an oddly small opening, I address it flat out. In this latest case, it was nothing more than suspicion. No way to prove it, my inquiry got me no straight answers, so I just took a precaution.

 

I could just start requiring open form on the project. A bunch of holes won't hold liquid well.

You don't let your students make shot glasses??!!!

I thought you were from the Hawkeye state!

TJR.

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Pres    896

Ben, much of teaching is about instincts. There is a lot about knowledge of subject, of pedagogy, of skills, and application. However, many times it has to be about instinct, noticing little things in the classroom that tell you the spit ball came from the second guy on the right even though you didn't see it, or that Susie had a bad morning and needs to be given a break, or that the kid isn't carrying a big wallet in his hip pocket, but a hunting knife. Instincts, and these at times will tell you that there is some ill intent with something they are making in class, and that their nervous giggles and side talking has more to it than just normal kid stuff. Sometimes you have to go with your instincts, and do something that maybe no one else would understand, but that when you explain the reason for that tickly feeling on the back of your neck the administration will back you up.  You made a judgement call based on instinct, great call, move on, and look the kid in the eye and tell him not  to try to get something over you again.

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docweathers    79

Pres

 

I agree with everything you said up until last phrase, " look the kid in the eye and tell him not to try to get something over you again." if you're not careful many kids will see that as a challenge, "throwing down the gauntlet". You don't want to set up some game or challenge. you want to pay as little attention to inappropriate behavior as possible. However, a confrontation can underline it because it implicitly says the kid has gotten to you emotionally, which is a reinforcer.

 

Larry

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Benzine    611

No doubt instincts are important Pres, especially in regards to the "Student not having a good day thing".

I'm not one to baby students. "Oh you have a headache, and don't want to work? I've had one since this morning, and I'm still doing my job." But I know how hard I can push them. If I can tell someone is not having a good day, I will find a different way to approach instruction. Instead of "Get to work!", it's "So how's that part of the project coming along?"

 

Teaching instinct, the ol' "Teacher has eyes int the back of their head", is kind of like a sixth sense. However instead of "seeing dead people", I see students doing idiotic things.

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Pres    896

There are ways of saying as if throwing down a gauntlet, and ways of saying it with a smile and a joke, that get the message across. Again it all comes down to instincts. I never through a gauntlet down, but let them know that I knew what I was doing.

However, when teaching the computer animation classes, I encouraged them to explore all the keyboard commands possible and take notes.  I let them know I didn't know much about computers so if they found a command that was new, let me know. In the end, they realized I knew more than I let on, but then I never seemed to be the expert about computers, just the guy that knew how to animate and was really excited about good animation.

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docweathers    79

Pres

I agree with you that the gauntlet does not have to be thrown down. It sounds like you have the perception and skill to pull it off.

 

I really like your way of teaching computer animation. it is very empowering for kids.

 

Larry

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Pres    896

Ahhh Gosh Gee, blush blush! It just seemed to make sense at the time. I worked through two operating systems, Amiga, and Windows up to XP. Which one was better? The one that didn't survive, but then that is the way of the world isn't it?

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I'm so glad I have Elementary.....if I move up to middle next year, though, I know I'll have to worry! But I really don't think it will be as big of an issue as you guys seemed to have had. That instinct though...I've got it after only a few years of teaching. Somehow I always know when they're up to something...EVERY time I think, and follow through with the accusation of materials being stolen....I've always turned out full pockets of sharpeners/pencils/crayons/markers/etc.

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Benzine    611

Yeah, High Schoolers, smart enough to have things, they will try and get away with, yet dumb enough, to think no one will catch on.

 

If me, having to put the kibosh, to students creating inappropriate projects, is the worst thing I have to put up with, then I' ll take it.

 

I honestly have not had much of an issue with theft. Usually the only thing that kids "borrow" are my big erasers and Sharpies.

 

I've had other teachers tell me about students stealing needle tools, for the purpose of home done tattooing. It sounds like one student, who'd steal them for others. Odd.

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