Month: May 2009

Total 11 Posts

Aiming Right At The Bar

This is one of the most thought-provoking comments this blog has ever seen, one which was posted weeks ago but which still messes with me:

David Cox: What percentage of the population do you think has the eyes and/or ears to know the difference [between soundtracks done well and done poorly]? When I watch a movie or listen to a song, I don’t see the things that you see. I try, but I don’t understand why certain shots are done certain ways or why a particular piece of music was or wasn’t used. Can I learn that? I don’t know. But if my audience won’t know the difference, should I take the time to learn it?

Two incomplete thoughts:

1. The software programmer should not write your lesson plan.

The programmer cares about consumers, not students. The programmer’s job is to make as many features accessible to as many consumers as easily as possible, without glutting the program. Your job is to challenge your students. Your job is very, very different. So don’t feel weird telling kids not to use a) bullet points in PowerPoint, b) filters in Audacity, and c) the “Add Track From iTunes” button in iMovie. The existence of the button does not make good pedagogy out of the button.

2. To put students in a place to care about the difference between good and bad production and not to equip them is wrong.

Which is to say, if you don’t know why those closing montages at the end of Grey’s Anatomy and Lost are insipid shortcuts to genuine emotional interaction with a story, then you should have the humility to recuse yourself and say, “Maybe I’m the wrong person to teach students to make movies.”

This isn’t about amateurs and experts. That fight is over. The amateurs have won and I wouldn’t reverse that ruling if I could. But it’s extremely important to understand where teachers fit into the new creative structure, a structure which has seen the quantity of published media increase at the same pace as its median quality has declined.

We must act as bulwarks against that decline, not accelerants of it.