I love that word.
My favorite class is coming up: the critique. The viewing of the student’s video projects, the big ones. There are four a term and this is numero dos, the music video. It’s been so fun to see the favorite music videos they’ve posted in the discussion board along with their vision for their upcoming projects. Some MTV flashbacks.
I am consistently surprised by the work they do. Their weekly skills assignments do not really prepare me for how these very creatively open projects will play out. I usually don’t preview them myself and I wait in anticipation with the rest of the class.
Watching the 7 student’s pieces usually takes the entire 2 and a half hours, even though they’re 2 to 5-minutes long. I guess I’ll have to speed it up bit next time I get a full class, but this pace allows us to talk about each one without a rush.
In the sometimes tentative moments after each “The End”, someone will usually speak up without prompting. They know we’re looking for something we like about what we just watched. I worried how these would go at first, but it turns out people want to say good things. Hopefully it’s not too tall a stretch! Trust in the ability of people to be positive, and the things they notice start to be really meaningful and interesting. In a safe space, we practice speaking and listening to each other talk about these videos as works of art.
Then we ask: how can it be better? It’s ok to make the assumption that it always can. I sometimes have to do more prompting because this is harder. This is learning to speak critically and kindly. Honest feedback, it’s sometimes called. I was heartened by a student in the first critique who let us know he wanted criticism, and it was delivered! Over time, the group dynamic gets more comfortable and the discussions roll, but I do wonder how to make it a little more edgy. Where to push and question and where to let it lie. My most memorable college art class was dominated by a sharp-tongued professor who we feared and occasionally hated. Also, highly respected. I don’t have to be that guy, but I’m working our way into a happy spot between sweet and sour.
For the most part, our class critiques are satisfying and occasionally enlightening exercises. After the last one, students were mingling after class in a way I hadn’t noticed before. Exciting stuff. I can’t wait for Tuesday night.