Sunday, October 14, 2007


Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others.
Proverbs 12:15

Brings to mind the old poster we might find in a classroom: "My way or the highway!"

From a teacher perspective we all could empathize with the concept as far as discipline goes but what if we all were exactly alike and there was no variance, no new innovations, only the same old thing, only our ideas? Where would we be?

I once had an art student whom I had taught for two years and who was moving into the third year with me. When asked who influenced his style of art he answered, "No one. I am one of a kind. I taught myself."

When I suggested to him that he must have been hatched from an egg in a cave with no one to raise him he laughed at the ridiculous idea.

"Actually," he said, " I am the oldest of six children and my mother is a single parent. I don't know my father."

As he spoke about his life in answer to my questions, I could see the light going off in his head.

The questioning moved from his family to the music he listened to, all the CDs he owned, the artists who designed the covers of his favorite CDs, the websites he frequented and on and on. As we embarked in conversation I could see the light in his head flashing now. He was beginning to realize that he was influenced by everything around him like it or not. He could not reject their influences on him.

A few days later I overheard the same student questioning another student.

"Who influences your artwork?"

The other student answered, "No one."

"What? Were you hatched from an egg in a cave?"

How else but by combining ideas from others did we get a man on the moon or recognize sound waves traveling through the air to little receivers or all of those other amazing things that man has developed.

To think that our ideas are the only way to do things is only ignorant and is a denial of better developments even if it is only how to hoe a row in the garden. One of my fond memories of my father-in-law is how he laughed when he told about Grandma's crooked rows in the garden and how she defended her crooked rows by saying you got more seeds in a crooked row than a straight one.

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