Wednesday, May 6, 2009
School's Out for the Summer
I have been on trains and planes for the past week, shuttling between Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, attending to some important beginnings and endings in the life of my family. For a full week, I've been too preoccupied to look at art, read about art, or even open my computer. However, I had the pleasure of encountering many university students from across the country, heading home at the end of their school year. So, in honour of them, I plan to spend a bit of time this week on the subject of education in general, and art education in particular...starting with one of my favourite Pinky Show clips. It features some familiar school architecture, combined with classic Ivan Illich passages read in voice-over by a Japanese schoolgirl. Weirdly appropriate and very funny. Somehow, his commentary on the state of our educational institutions seems even more appropriate today than it did 40 odd years ago. Large class sizes, too many classes taught by sessional instructors and grad students, and graded by multiple choice rather than essay: it must be hard to keep a sense of creativity and curiosity alive for those students and professors who have a passion for knowledge, and are not afraid to learn from failure and risk. I celebrate those students who have that passion, and want them to know that in ten year's time, nobody will care or remember that they got a B- rather than an A in Art History 101.