Help Criticizing this Personal Statement
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  1. #1
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    Help Criticizing this Personal Statement

    The third paragraph is long, and I don't know how to best break it up. Any and all crits appreciated:

    Throughout my life, art has always been my calling. I feel most productive and content when I am making art, and teaching art to others. I love all kinds of art, from detailed drawings to historical painting, abstract painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film, music, writing, cartoons & comics, jewelry & fashion design, architecture & engineering, etc., and I create new work every day. When not making art, I focus on how best to teach it in classes I have designed myself, based on Massachusetts frameworks, and taught to all age levels for years in local art centers. I love art because, to me, it is a collection of wisdom. Art encompasses and catalogues all the insights, realizations, theories, and study of the greatest minds throughout history, crossing all barriers of language and time, to teach us today. Art is more than merely a record of human history – it also compels us to care about our history.

    For example, many people know about the internment of Japanese Americans during WW2. By and large it is considered a mistake and unfortunate for the thousands of people who suffered. But it is not a topic that gets much attention. As an art teacher’s assistant through Cambridge School Volunteers, I brought a documentary film to class, Days of Waiting, detailing the life of Estelle Ishigo, a white American who chose to endure these camps rather than divorce her Japanese husband. The students who watched this film were captivated by it, and also by the power that art can have. It was Estelle’s paintings, I emphasized to the students, that compelled other detainees to search for her, to learn her story and make the movie. Through this documentary, my students learned not only about the injustices and suffering that Japanese Americans endured. They also learned that it is one thing to hear about an event, it is quite another to see it.

    As an art educator my goal is to prepare all my students for college and future careers in art, through rigorous study of drawing, painting, sculpture, and anatomy, all based on observation. Art is not just one skill, but many related skills that build off each other, and these four disciplines form an educational core that will teach students precision in their work, principles of design, and will assist them in learning any new kind of art, whether it be a new sculpting material or a new computer program. To become artists, students must work non-stop, honing their craft. They must learn to talk and write about art. They must understand the difference between art they make for others, and art exercises they make for themselves in order to learn. I have written many such exercises, some learned from the many wonderful professors I have met through the course of my education, that teach manageable steps in each of the four disciplines mentioned above. Students must have the freedom to envision and create their own work. They must also have a clear and organized teacher who explains what is expected of them in each assignment, how work will be graded, and who knows them all as individuals, with unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses. While some students may choose to pursue other subjects and careers, it is crucial to me that they understand how to make art, why art matters in the world, and that they develop a passion for art that will brighten and enrich their lives.

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    Oops, I meant to respond to this sooner. This is quite an improvement from your previous statement.

    The end of the second paragraph seems off-topic. “They also learned that it is one thing to hear about an event, it is quite another to see it.” Instead, consider changing that sentence to be something about how art has awakened an interest in history for the students. The internment story is priceless!

    About this goal: “As an art educator my goal is to prepare all my students for college and future careers in art . . .” I see a problem there. As a public school educator, 99.8% of your students will not go on to a future career in art. You must be able to offer something to those students who are going into other careers. And, as you showed in your previous paragraph, you do have something substantial to offer them – you are causing them to be interested in other important subjects through art, and you are showing them that art is a doorway to other subjects that may interest them. Make sure you don’t diminish the importance of this by suddenly focusing exclusively on the students headed for a career in art.

    My piano teacher used to tell me that she wasn’t teaching piano lessons, but that she was teaching life lessons. I don’t think she ever taught someone who went on to play music professionally, but she still managed to be one of the best teachers I ever had because in addition to what she taught me about music and performance, what she taught me could be applied to disciplines that have nothing to do with music.

    “They must also have a clear and organized teacher who explains what is expected of them in each assignment, how work will be graded, and who knows them all as individuals, with unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses.” I would add to this: “. . .and what the point of each assignment is.” I had many teachers who overlooked this in many subjects, and the result was that us students couldn’t find a reason to be interested in the assignment.

    Great work! :-)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    I'm very serious when I ask this: to whom are you writing and for what purpose?

    I'd like to help and your answer will dictate what form that takes.

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    This is a personal statement/art ed philosophy as part of my application to teach high school art classes. It's for interviewers.

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    "The end of the second paragraph seems off-topic. “They also learned that it is one thing to hear about an event, it is quite another to see it.” Instead, consider changing that sentence to be something about how art has awakened an interest in history for the students."

    Thanks for pointing this out Seedling, this is where I have trouble finding the right words. What I mean by this story is that students discover how powerful and immediate images can be. If you make a compelling image about anything, people will, by and large, remember it, and care about it. You could get the same response from people through pages of writing, but then only from people who are willing to read it. With images, it's right in your face, and you can't help but react to it. Estelle Ishigo's paintings do that too, when you see them.

    "About this goal: “As an art educator my goal is to prepare all my students for college and future careers in art . . .” I see a problem there. As a public school educator, 99.8% of your students will not go on to a future career in art. You must be able to offer something to those students who are going into other careers"

    I saw that same problem, and I wanted that last sentence of the essay to be inserted here, but I couldn't figure out how. The problem is this:

    I do want all of my students to improve to where they could see themselves pursuing art professionally if they wanted to. I want them to make their choices about college and subjects based on interest, and not any fears of failure. For those that do choose other subjects, I still want them to understand the art world, art's importance, how art is made, etc and have a love for art. the trouble I had with this paragraph is I couldn't insert that caveat without breaking up the link from my goal to the four skills I want my students to focus on.

    "and what the point of each assignment is.”

    Excellent point, I'll add that in now.

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    Well, if this is going to educators, you're going to want to make certain that the English is proper. Right now, there are several phrases which are fine for conversational English, but aren't really correct. An example:
    As an art educator my goal is to prepare all of my students for college and future careers in art
    You're also going to want to trim down all of it. I'd say you have about two to three times as many words as you need. Just like conservation of strokes, you want to say the most you can with the fewest words. Also, make the first sentence punch! Perhaps something like "Art is my life's pursuit". Then go into how much satisfaction you glean from producing and teaching it. Keep from listing things; you're going to miss important stuff people are looking for and name things people won't like. Try something like "My interests lie across the spectrum, from representational art and design to music and writing".

    Try to keep a rhythm. Read the paragraph out loud and determine whether it's too choppy or if there are too few natural pauses. You want a balance, where the reader can gasp for breath in between swimming below the flaming pools of oil. Also try stating the most important idea to begin with and using the rest of the paragraph to support it; that would help the second paragraph, which drags the reader around before clubbing him senseless.

    I'm with Seedling on the last paragraph: it would probably be better to tie art in with a general education (recalling that in the administrator's eyes, you're going to be a high school teacher first and an art teacher second). The math head isn't going to be excited if you have his students doing five hours of art homework every night. I'm convinced that each subject supports a more well-rounded brain, which is much more able to accept new ideas (under most circumstances). Art's importance lies in its capacity to expand one's view of the world, the development of real observation skills, and a socially acceptable reason for staring at boobies (you can use this sentence if you want to).

    As Elwell has remarked on many occasions, employers will determine your value on your ability to express yourself in writing. It may not be fair, but that doesn't make it less true.

    Maybe he'll stop by...

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    Updated:

    Throughout my life, art has always been my calling. I feel most productive and content when I am making art, and teaching art to others. I love all kinds of art, from detailed drawings to historical painting, abstract painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film, music, writing, cartoons & comics, jewelry & fashion design, architecture & engineering, etc., and I create new work every day. When not making art, I focus on how best to teach it in classes I have designed myself, based on Massachusetts frameworks, and taught for years to students of all ages. I love art because, to me, it is a collection of wisdom. Art encompasses and catalogues all the insights, realizations, theories, and study of the greatest minds throughout history, crossing all barriers of language and time, to teach us today. Art is more than merely a record of human history – it also compels us to care about our history.

    For example, many people know about the internment of Japanese Americans during WW2. By and large it is considered a mistake and unfortunate for the thousands of people who suffered. But it is not a topic that gets much attention. As an art teacher’s assistant through Cambridge School Volunteers, I brought a documentary film to class, Days of Waiting, detailing the life of Estelle Ishigo, a white American who chose to endure these camps rather than divorce her Japanese husband. The students who watched this film were captivated by it, and also by the power that art can have. It was Estelle’s paintings, I emphasized to the students, that compelled other detainees to search for her, to learn her story and make the movie. Through this documentary, my students learned not only about the injustices and suffering that Japanese Americans endured. They also learned the power images can have over people, when they portray something important.

    As an art educator my goal is to prepare all my students for college and future careers in art, through rigorous study of drawing, painting, sculpture, and anatomy, all based on observation. Art is not just one skill, but many related skills that build off each other, and these four disciplines form an educational core that will teach students precision in their work, principles of design, and will assist them in learning any new kind of art, whether it be a new sculpting material or a new computer program. To become artists, students must work non-stop, honing their craft. They must learn to talk and write about art. They must understand the difference between art they make for others, and art exercises they make for themselves in order to learn. I have written many such exercises, some learned from the many wonderful professors I have met through the course of my education, that teach manageable steps in each of the four disciplines stated above. Students must have the freedom to envision and create their own work. They must also have a clear and organized teacher who explains what is expected of them in each assignment, what the purpose of each assignment is, how work will be graded, and who knows them all as individuals, with unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses. While some students may choose to pursue other subjects and careers, it is crucial to me that they understand how to make art, why art matters in the world, and that they develop a passion for art that will brighten and enrich their lives.

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