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.


  1. So say you about grades but try getting into graduate school 25 years after college and finding out that your GPA will probably fail your candidacy!

  2. Dear Max
    Any grad. program that assesses a candidate with 25 years of life experience solely on the basis of grades obtained a quarter century ago probably is not worth your time, money or energy. Seriously. There has got to be another way of getting where you want to be.

  3. Dear A.K.,
    Thank you for your response. I just wanted to turn my experience towards teaching. Today, teaching certification programs are very serious business and with the crunch and many white collar professionals reevaluating their life goals the pool of applicants to such programs is growing. The institutions need to have a way to shrink the pool size hence the GPA hurdle!
    Maybe my life experience will help me gain admittance into a program.
    Perhaps my art can open an institutional door, who knows? I shall knock at the door and keep you informed.