Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

I like this story:


The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A," forty pounds a "B," and so on. Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A."

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

From Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles, Ted Orland


There is a joke about a man in New York City who is a bit lost and asked a street musician how to get to Carnegie Hall. The answer was "You gotta PRACTICE, man ... you gotta PRACTICE!"

One of my father's friends used to tell people that the way to become an expert was to make 5,000 mistakes. His point was people learn by trying, making mistakes, learning from them, and trying again.

As parents we need to be comfortable with letting our children make mistakes. Sometimes they will recognize they have made a mistake on their own and try again. Sometimes we need to point out the mistake and encourage them to try again.

Some times a good way to help your children is to give them pounds and pounds of clay, and let them learn.

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