Developing Resilience continued...

Last year, I started thinking about how resilience could be addressed in a more explicit manner in my classes. As one of our school values, it is obviously something we as staff here feel is needed to be boosted. I heard something on the radio on the way to school the other morning about how 'Human Resources' teams in big companies assess potential employees' "RQ" or resilience quotient. I don't know if that is true! Half way through writing I just did an internet search and there is definitions and a website on which you can test your Resilience Quotient. There are PDF forms and online forms you can use to be tested.

I have become a little more sensitised to this, having an intern (student teacher) from NZGSE with me this term. She has noted, strikingly in her opinion, how quickly a high proportion of students give up, rate themselves as rubbish, and are not resilient. This is something that though I'm aware of, I think it has become something I take for granted - my awareness of it, that is. I know it, I don't fully accept and I do actively work on it, like it is just something to work on, as that is what it is for me. And it is for everyone who teaches here. It is why we have resilience as an explicit value. It worries me that I could become so used to it, that I don't take the time to care about raising it up in my classroom.

So last year, in SK we did the mono-prints, and I wouldn't let them throw them out, even if they hated them. For the last 3 years, my first project with year 10 students has been all about not hiding your mistakes, but making something more of them - "beauty in your mistakes" was one year, and this year it has been our learning outcome of  'making your mistakes your intentions'. Going with the flow, and adapting an attitude of  'oh dear, the ink went there, how do I make that work for me?'

1.2 - Level one: At Year 11 we have been making sure they don't have enough time to even acknowledge them in the learning process; Nicole (intern) and I were both first year fine arts doing similar programmes. Life drawing was a pretty normal part of this. You do 3 hours of drawing in one session, once a week. For me, it was a compulsory aspect that you had to pass to graduate onto level two. So, your first half hour is warm up drawings 30 second poses, followed by 2 minute poses, then something like 10 minutes, leading up to 30 mins or an hour or more, depending on how your teacher felt at the time. Always you would start with 30 seconds. So did we. We took the chairs away (locked them out the back), encouraged gestural drawing and set a timer:

These are a few of the more finished ones so far. We gave them more time on this, but at a certain level, they are losing some of the fluency they were achieving.



Students created a good 10 - 20 pages of drawing each, and because they were drawing so fast and changing papers without reflecting on them, looking for flaws, they had no choice but to develop a sense of fluency that they would have been too scared to do, if we had let them just meander their way through the three lessons that they did this for. It does mean a lot of unfinished drawings, but we are hoping that there is still enough honest evidence of fluency (excellence) or control (merit) in most, as there is definitely enough base recording information (achieved). I'm really proud of these drawings and of how seriously this lovely class have been taking themselves. We even had one of our students, who messed up with her  personal management (taking time off class, knowing she should not have) asking if she could work through the 30 second drawings by herself to catch up. While it's harder to be successful without the classroom momentum, it showed she was doing something resilient. Progress!


  1. I am not clear on the relationship between drawing fast, fluency and learning from mistakes. Most interesting so I can keen to learn more.

    1. Fluency in drawing (the excellence criteria in 1.2 vis art is about fluency with the media) can come from drawing fast and frequently, trying to dissemintate and record the most significant information first, so that you are making something recognisable for others. It's a technique taught in life drawing - ten 30 second drawings, recording as much as you can before the pose is changed. When it is a human form, you figure out the line of the spine first, then the lay of the shoulders and hips and you draw to find the mass of the form on the paper, with almost circular, or in the very least, curvilinear gesture. The doing, over and over, is what makes you improve. It really does work in training your brain to record in drawing. Learning from mistakes, making your mistakes your intentions, often happens in those situations, as you don't have time to 'fix', you have to just get on and 'do'. But also, if students have time away from the 'mistake' or are prescribed the direction to treat it like it is o.k, they learn to see it as just a step in their creative work, rather than the end of it. The best ideas are discovered by accident. Interesting handling of the media in Art is also often discovered by accident, rather than fully just with control.


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