Thursday, March 15, 2012

the pursuit

"If it wasn't for Art, I wouldn't go to school."

A high school student submitted that as his essay on his standardized college entrance test.  The writing prompt asked him to argue either for sports or arts funding for schools.  That's his essay in its entirety.  All one sentence of it.

I like it. 

He actually received a score of 2 out of 6.  He addressed the topic (more or less), took a position (more or less), and it was legible. 

Some tutor cohorts and I were discussing essays on standardized tests and how to discern between those who just don't have the smarts and those who are "bright non-conformists".

I say I like the essay because, as  a test prep teacher and tutor I've read many essays that have droned on and on in shameful attempts to kiss essay grader butt.  This one-sentence wonder actually showed more passion than many of those. 

I say I like it, but if he were a student of mine, I would have to try to coach him to write what the test makers want him to write.  That's just the way it is if the aim is to get a good score on the test.

I probably wouldn't have him as a student though, because I suspect that he may in fact be a "bright non-conformist".  I've had bright students and I've had non-conformist students, but never bright non-conformist students.  I think that's because bright non-conformists know that they don't need tutors.

Admittedly, much of my waking life is spent conforming or trying to get others to conform.   I didn't really even realize this until I did the life coach thing.   Much of my tutoring is to help people do well on standardized tests. In addition, I'm a freaking crossing guard! 

One of the things my coach and I discussed was "Where is all this artwork coming from?!"  I honestly did not know during my pre-coach ennui.  I guess it was just an outlet for the non-conformist side of my brain - my way of, literally, coloring outside the lines.  I still need the other side though.  I wouldn't be satisfied in submitting a one-sentence essay. 

Sometimes I wonder about Mr. One-Sentence.  Where is he today?

Starving or the next Steve Jobs?


Scott said...

Love your new banner!

And that "bright non-conformist" may be working in a supermarket, but he doesn't mind. I know, because I was one of those students. I graduated with a BA in English-Creative Writing, and am currently on disability for mental illness (often an unfortunate companion to brightness, and non-conformity). But I continue writing, continue in my art, I could not live without writing. And he probably continues in his art, as well--no matter what he does for "a living".

And on a slightly relevant note: I once saw this, spray-painted on a wall at Auburn University (where I attended my first year): "CONFORM, GO CRAZY, OR BECOME AN ARTIST!"

Shawnte said...

That kid sounds like a rebel in the making! I like his answer too :3. As far as I'm concerned, Art > All. He seems like a smart kid.

It makes me sad that we have to conform so much to societal norms all the time x.x.

Abby said...

I think there are more bright non-conformists walking among us than we realize. I'll try to look out for them. Maybe invite them for Thanksgiving.

And thanks regarding the banner. I just found out today that I could put an image up there!

Abby said...

Oh, and on the graffiti, I might change the "or" to an "and"!

Abby said...

I think he was smart too. If not, he probably would have written a bunch of fluff.

terri said...

I like that kid. I wish I were more like him/her. I'm a total conformist who sits back and quietly admires the non-conformists.

Linda Hensley said...

Where does all the art come from? I probably need to talk to your life coach too. Having read an awwwful lot of bad essays, I like Mr. One-Sentence too. Not sure if I'd give him a scholarship for making me laugh, but I might draw a smiley face on his paper.

agg79 said...

Gotta admit, he is direct and to the point. I bet he's either an avaunt guard artist making tons of money painting logos for some corporation or living under a bridge.

I beliee that some of the greatest artists were nonconformists, so you are in good company.

BTW - love the picture of Tessa.

ShadowRun300 said...

You've touched on a topic very close to my heart. I have an elementary education degree and I've taught and/or been involved in schools for many, many years. The last few years I have been completely disheartened with our education system. It seems like teachers teach to the tests and tend to forget that they are working with KIDS - kids who are all unique, who have different learning styles, who may be intelligent, but it's not seen because they aren't conforming to what they believe a smart kid should act like. I won't get into it my frustrations here, but I can tell you that I LOVE the one line essay. My guess is there is WAY more to this kid than his teachers ever saw.

Abby said...

You get it. I did blog a little about my negative experience with public education from the inside. When students come to me for test prep, we all understand that, right or wrong, it's just a hoop they are required to jump through.

Abby said...

I like to think he went on to some art institute and made a mark - maybe as a minimalist artist, considering his style of writing!