In art class, I decided that we needed to try to make some wire sculptures in the style of www.wirelady.com. Her work is interesting! It’s not that easy to conceptualize how to turn a length of wire into these gorgeous, complex shapes.
I asked the phone company to get me some wire, and they gave me a big huge cable of telephone wire six foot long. It was covered with aluminum casing and then rubber. I had to get the custodian to clip it open! It was filled with little bundles of wires–literally thousands of them, like the one below, only massive (maybe five inches in diameter!).
We separated the bundles and got a bunch of single wires. Then came the hard part: how to turn wire into art. At first I followed the Wire Lady’s instructions: give the kids three 12-inch lengths and let them noodle with the wire to learn how to make shapes.
Then. . . off we went, learning as we go. The sculptures are fascinating. These are junior high kids but they persist until the sculptures are interesting, strong, and can either stand or be hung. (I’ll get my camera and take some pix for you in the next day or two.) I find much of the work satisfying and wonderful.
How do you give credit for this? The process is the important thing. Everybody keeps working till they feel satisfied (and I give lots of guidance along the way). So I grade it like I do everything else: when they produce work that meets criteria, they get an A.
So what if some pieces are more aesthetic, mature or finished? Do the higher-level kids get a better grade just because they are more mature artists? I don’t think so. I know some art teachers who disagree with me, but again, the process is important.
Interesting. . .my principal agrees with me. Today he was saying, “You are giving kids a bunch of new skills. They will make one of these, and maybe someday, make one more complex as they mature as artists.”
Mastery, mastery. To me, it applies to writing, science, art, even math, although pacing guides and curriculum maps hold math teachers to a strict schedule. Still, when my college-professor husband (music) gets kids in class who can’t do basic computations, like how fast sound travels per hour, per minute, over various distances, then I think that all the curriculum mapping in the world, even if the tests show success, doesn’t count for much if the kids don’t have the skills when they’re done.