Friday, April 12, 2013

Why go to the high school talent show?

Lining the halls of any high school, you will invariably see posters advertising the upcoming school play/musical, the latest orchestra performance, or pieces of art done by the students. I remember as a student, that I would rarely go to any of these. I remember that once, I walked through the AP art show that was in the atrium of the school theatre, and being in awe of the talents of the students around me.  I had no idea that my friends were, besides being smart (some of them), artistic.

Students offer far more than what I am able to see within a classroom setting or a pool. As a teacher and I coach, I usually am only able to see the students within these realms. Frequently, in addition to seeing the posters that line the hallways, I receive emails from the art teacher/theatre teacher/music teacher that are sent out to the whole school informing us of the latest production. Occasionally, I will receive an email from a parent or student asking me to go to these events as well.

These requests are usually ignored. I can almost always find a reason not to go-usually coaching, or training, or finding time to be social. Also because I had one unfortunate experience when I was at Jamestown High School at the school musical. A parent who was also a chemistry teacher came up to me and first asked if I was willing to exchange worksheets on a particular subject (I wholeheartedly agreed), and then asked if I was single and would date some family friend. This was during intermission while I stood and talked with some of my co-workers. Awkward.

This week, I had the opportunity to either skip out on the most recent demonstration of talent, or make an exception to go. On Thursdays, we have swim practice from 6:15 to 9pm. The first 45 minutes of practice are spent doing “dryland” work (Get it? Because we are swimmers? We are working out on “dry land”). It usually involves running, medicine balls, and a variety of core and body weight exercises. During the dryland session, the AP art show was going on. I have three swimmers who were had work up in the exhibit.

I have the bad tendency to look at my students in a one dimensional manner-how well can you do the task that I am charging you with-either learning biology or chemistry, or swim/play water polo. Within these tasks, I always believe that my students are fully capable, and will succeed, but I fail to see them in other lights. I am unaware of their other talents because I rarely have the chance to see them perform those talents.

In the middle of the dryland session, I stopped the swimmers. Attendance was sparse, and a 30 minute trip to the art exhibit would not hurt them.

Again, as it usually happens at these events, I am surprised by the talent that these students have. Below are three works from swimmers.

Lesson learned. Go to more art shows/musicals/etc. Deal with awkward parents. Also, as a side note-find out about your friends. Some of them are more talented than you know. I was embarrassed once in college when I asked a girl who had done a charcoal sketch she had in her room. She had. Chance: over. If you have talent, share it. 

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