Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 22

Not my favorite number, 22, though I can't say I have anything particular against it. My twenty-second day of this particular year I've set for myself was a studio day. It wasn't the mad-artist-inspired sort of day. It wasn't the logistics, physics, editing sort of day either. It was a very practical day of grinding, sanding, finishing and painting. In other words, I was a one-girl Poppet factory. I don't mind being that, two or three days, or sometimes, even four days in a week (though that's pushing it.) I would mind being that every single day. I was, for a while there. It just sort of happened after the recession got a good hold on all of us and I had to let go of my helpers, much to my sadness. Eventually, it was just me in the studio, trying to keep up with what four (and a half, hour-wise) were doing. That couldn't go on. And it didn't.
How I got from there to here is another story and I'll tell it, if enough of you think it would be helpful for you. I know some of you are artists and that it can be a tough gig even in the best of times.
I didn't plan to write about that either, but this was a very long day of it. It didn't have to be. I could've spread the work over several days. But then I wouldn't have had any time to work on books and/or paintings for books. It's like that. I'm an artist. I do exactly what I love. True. It's also my 'real' job. And all that goes with. As with any other job, I have to push a little harder to make time for longer-term work and labors of love. To get larger works created and things published. I refer to it as 'running for escape velocity.' Sometimes it works.
So yes. It was a long day of working with my hands. My mind was somewhat free. What I was thinking about was education. It's been on my mind a lot. Of course it has. I'm a student. I'm the parent of students. I live in the US. I read C. M. Kornbluth. I'm afraid for us.
And, I'm still reading the book about Deming. I'm really tired tonight, I need another glass of wine and a heating pad. Oh, the hot tub always on my wish list....
So I can't write for shit. So I'm going to post this passage from the book. I'd really like to know what you think.

Thinking About Quality pg 21

In a global economy, education is much like quality; it's a matter of continual improvement throughout life. We aren't doing that yet. In a society in which 20 percent of the adult population have college degrees, less than 10 percent in any year read a book more difficult than popular fiction. Some estimates are even lower than that, but that is low enough to make the point. American colleges and universities have handed degrees to about twice as many people as they have educated. The old idea that education was something that could be completed has to give way to the modern requirement for lifelong learning. Society would be better served if every degree from every institution had stamped across its face in two-inch-high red letters "Learner's Permit."

Tell me what you think.

Oh,.. I desperately need a new computer keyboard. The letters are worn off of more than half the keys on this one and several keys stick, clean or not. Will Trade For Poppets.
I think I'll get started on the wish list...



J.W.B. said...

Love 22. Two is my favorite number. 99 is another favorite. lol. I actually tried counting how many days it's been since my birthday before...then I realized I'm staring right at the number...

As for the quote...I think you know how I feel about schools in general...I hate the system...that a number can represent how much you know. Sort of unrelated, but I LOVE this speech about creativity and school... It's a bit lengthy, but he speaks the truth. Totally agree with the "Learner's Permit" bit...I hate how people make "after college" sound like you just stop learning and you just fly off into a job like magic. Oh well.

Here's to a good Day 23!

Diandra said...

Instead of teaching people stuff, schools should teach people the fun of learning things. I've got friends who always thought they were stupid because school was no fun and they got bad grades. Then they discovered learning. One of them is in for her second university degree right now. ^^

Carl V. said...

One of many things I appreciate about you Lisa is that you are open and honest about the 'work' side of art. You don't romanticize the life of an artist through your words or by omitting the truth about it being hard work. I appreciate that. You also express your great love for the work as well and thus provide the kind of balance that few artists are willing to share in a public forum.

I like what you wrote about education. Over the past day I've been in a group conversation online sparked off by the nonsense about sanitizing Huck Finn in which someone mentioned the updating of Shakespeare to more modern language and sentence structure. That lit a fire in me. I hate the idea that some schools/teachers have decided that middle and high school children are too stupid to understand and appreciate the bard. I don't believe the language has to be modernized to open a child's eyes to the wonder. I think you need a good teacher and a curriculum that will allow time to be spent on fewer works instead of trying to cram so much into a semester. I'm so glad my child is out of grade school. I'm at that point in my life where I'd be a terrible parent, railing at the system.

Dunabit said...

What kind of keyboard?

Drinne said...

This is long - because I think about this alot

Part of the problem with education as a continual thing is the incredibly narrow definition of education used by our culture and society - the reality is for most people who are employed using their hands their education is always continuos, ( and continual) for the ones using their brains it is or they do not stay employed.

Mechanics are constantly training, retraining, learning new materials and equipment. They may not read books, they may just learn cars. No one listens to them as educated opinions because they just "learn cars". People don't know that they've learned electricity, physics, engineering, mechanical engineering. They do not know about certifications and awards they are just "the good mechanic" or "the guy I think ripped me off" or "the dealership mechanic." They are always learning. I worked for a place that made the things that taught them. They learn like doctors. I worked for a place that made CME materials too.

Doctors on the other hand become overwhelmed with learning. Sometimes I think all the specialization is to be able to deal with the influx of knowledge and still feel competent because there is SO much. There is a point ( you can measure it) where they stop learning and are just collecting. Everyone has that point. But it is dangerous in doctors.

If you work in technology you must not only learn - you are expected to learn over and over. Then there are the types of learning that are not recognized because they do not have degrees after their names.

I love books. I love thinking. I am back in school, but books and reading (Though I love them!) are not everyone's learning nor should they be.

Working with one's hands is considered "unskilled" or "manual" labor unless it is specifically labeled Art or relegated to a hobby. Not everyone ( maybe not even most people) can read well and process it. It was not long ago that plain literacy was not a majority trait. Less than a century really. Almost no time in history at all.

Perhaps we have more learning disabilities not because they are on the increase but because the way we measure competence is different than we ever have before.

We are not building a society of continuos education because the way we think of education as universal is truly not. Until the Big Thinkers allow for not just "potential" but "practice" and not just "learning" but "doing" all we are doing is creating the education ideal of fashion models. And we might be creating the side effect of educational "eating disorders". Some will go "oh i will never look like that" and give up, some will gorge themselves but never enjoy it or use it ( or think) a type of educational overeating, some will try to control it like an educational anorexia and it will consume their every waking moment and nothing - not 4.0, no honors award will be good enough and they will see "continuos education" as a life long need and proof that they are never good enough, when everyone sees them as overachievers.

Drinne said...

I see it now in school before they are out. I see it later when we give them new classes, books. I've taught them, and coached them when I've managed them.

We don't have education right enough for me to feel like anyone who is "educated" can say that its the answer until I see an answer that builds up the middle and not just the outliers.

There are a minimum of 11 styles of adult learners when you design a training course that teaches an actual skill or analytic process. We know this training doctors and mechanics. We do not use these tools to teach children. They didn't get those learning styles magically when they turned 18. Some of them are demoralized learners by that time. We have to teach them on the sly, they shouldn't realize they are learning because all of the things that go with "education" make them resistant. We have ways to teach them too. You can't do it for school though it's all individual and expensive and the first thing cut when the budget is tight.

Blanket solutions make me worry - they are too easily a tool to make the privileged feel like they are doing SOMETHING when the great middle is left alone, because it is assumed they'll be OK.

We really know very little about most humans, we extrapolate from very small groups and then we try to make all the others fit.

//apologies for any typos - I'm proofing on a blog before coffee . . . . : )

Kelly said...

I haven't been commenting lately, as I've been reading (lazily) from my phone, but I like how often you've been writing and the depth with which you write.


DavidK said...

I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic about the status of education in the US. Bemoaning the failure of people to continually utilize and improve upon their education is a bit like arguing about how high to fill the tub while not noticing that all the water's draining out. Education isn't valued any more - in fact it's become something to actively disparage. On the airwaves, anyone who argues based on logical grounds, and backs up those arguments with relevant background material, is actively ridiculed. Here's a good example:

Okay, I'm done venting now...

On a better topic - the blog topics and writing have been enjoyable to read - thanks for a lot of interesting things to ponder...

Melissa P said...

I could rant for a while on this topic, but I'll keep it brief. I agree with Drinne about redefining what education means and about how many people are learners without realizing it. It is hard for some to grasp that knowledge is the means to an end. What you do with that knowledge is what is important, not only to ourselves as individuals, but also to our communities and our world. Knowledge, in and of itself, has a quantifiable value. Wisdom less so. But of the two, wisdom, which is found in the lifelong process of learning, is the hardest to value. It is priceless.

If learning is to be a lifelong process, it must be a way of life, a way of being. I suspect that instilling the desire for this process is more about nurturing it than about teaching it.

I'll climb off the soapbox now.