Teacher Does Not Score A Perfect Ten

, , , , , , , | Learning | June 26, 2017

My art teacher in high school was a piece of work. He was a good artist, but he had a very narrow view of what constituted ‘art’ — anything even vaguely cartoon-ish didn’t count, for example. He also tended to play favorites. For a while I was one of the favorites, but something changed in my senior year and he started to get hyper-critical of my work.

That year I was in an AP art class, since I intended to go to college for illustration. Some of the assignments he gave us were insane, especially for a high school class, but the nadir of the class for me was an assignment where he wanted 12(!) finished pieces, all in different styles, in two weeks. That’s almost a piece a day, and insane when you consider we had all of our other classes to consider, too.

I worked my absolute hardest, and managed to come up with 10 pieces. Not all of them were very good, but what do you expect on that deadline? I got to the class to find that, in spite of my worries over being two pieces short, I actually had the most pieces out of everyone there. Most only had three or four, and a few only had one or two, though admittedly they were all higher quality than mine.

However, I did not get any kind of recognition from the teacher for all of my work. In fact, he continually picked up various pieces of mine and referred to them as ‘crap’ in comparison with my peers, and he didn’t even mention the 12-piece goal that I was the only person to come even close to hitting. By the end I was crying silently in the back of the critique group.

Thankfully, the whole spectacle was so ridiculous that my classmates — even the ones receiving positive feedback from him — stood up for me, and one of his ‘favorites’ spent most of the critique rubbing my back and telling me she was impressed that I managed to do as much as I had in so little time, and that the teacher was completely out of line for talking about my art the way he was. But I do attribute a lot of my anxiety with my art now to that class, and the way he moved the goalposts.

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