Monday, November 2, 2009

Art Blog: The SYSTEM

This weekend, I watched a couple of hours of BookTalk featuring Dr. Temple Grandin. She is autistic, a prolific writer, scholar, and wise woman.

I have been a fan of hers for years. It could be because I have been the teacher of hundreds of students with autism. However, I also relate to her because her story relates so much to my own. When she speaks about her life and how she perceives things, I always understand. I am not autistic, but I see the world in “pictures” too. I have never been a left brain achiever. My left brain skills have been honed and learned the hard way. I have always taken the initiative to practice my left brain skills over and over again. It has never come naturally.

As I watch Dr. Grandin interact with people, it reminds me of me. Some think I am gregarious. This is so wrong. It is all an act. I fake it. I hate social interaction. This is why I have never collected friends or had wonderful relationships. I love being alone all by myself. That is just fine with me. I hate mingling and small talk. I just don’t get either. I see mouths moving. I hear noises surrounding me. I want to shrink and run away. Often, I space out in social situations. I don’t feel bad about this. I just want to go home so I can think. That is what makes me happy.

Similarly, I have dealt with a lifetime of fighting feeling like a dummy. In 3rd grade, I was given a label. I was in the “Blue Bird” reading group. Other kids laughed. That was the reading group for dummies. Well, I have eleven years of college under my belt now. I would have more if I won the lottery and could finish my Ph.D. So who is a dummy? My mind is sound. It is the way I was taught that was faulty. BTW. I don’t blame the teachers either. I am one. I see the system as the culprit.

Today there was an “Academic Awards” ceremony at school. It is called the “3.0 Club”. I scurried around trying to finish my classes so I could attend. I had made certificates for some of my students. Each certificate read “For EXCELLENCE in ART!” When I ran into the assembly, certificates in hand, I realized some of my excellent students were not invited. You see, they were not on the honor roll. OH. I see. In other words, I saw this assembly as a celebration of left brain thinkers. Oh my. My bad. I misunderstood.

You would think I would be an educational system cheerleader. Rah! Rah! Rah! I am not. There are just too many things wrong with the system. Despite volumes of research and data, we still don’t get it. Our society is in a rut. We don’t think outside of the box. I can’t speak for her, but I would guess Dr. Grandin would agree. We are not creative in our pursuit of excellence. We don't value or take into consideration individual talents. We don’t see the forest for the trees.

This is so sad to me.

“School Uniforms”
Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas/Mixed Media
8” X 10”
Click pic for detailed view


Rebecca Bush said...

Hey Sheree,
Thanks for putting it into words-- I too am a Temple Grandin fan and right brain person who was bored out of her mind in school as a child. I am glad that you are there, making a difference!

Sheree Rensel said...

HA!!! Do you know how long it took me to be able to put it into "words". It was worth the effort!! I HEAR you!! :-)

erika allison said...

Love the painting. It tells the story!

Rach said...

I just discovered your blog today. I really love it, I can relate to you so much. Unlike you, I didn't feel like an artist all my life: I'm still learning to give myself permission to create. Some of my creation is through teaching, and I SO agree with this post - and love the image. I'm teaching in Korea right now and individuality is so constrained here. Anyway, thanks for honesty, and for sharing.