I am bemused.

Middle school art students. I had just spent the day before and part of this period in lecture/discussion reviewing the elements of art, and relating them to a Van Gogh painting and to the art projects the students just completed. Now they are working on a critique worksheet I just finished explaining in depth. The worksheet has six questions to ask another student about their work, then four critique questions for the student to answer on his/her own. Here are some overheard comments from third period.


Boy: “Did anyone listen to what she was saying?”
Girl: “Nobody did.”
Boy: “Shoot.”


I especially described unity and gave several examples.

From several separate students: “What’s unity?”

Girl, to me: “I don’t understand question four [about unity.]”
Me: “Were you paying attention when we were discussing unity just a few minutes ago?”
Girl: “No.”


Earlier, after I had just finished a sentence about what “interviewee” meant (“the person whom you are interviewing.”)

Boy one: What’s interviewee?
Boy two: It’s a typo.


I did everything I could to engage the students in thoughtful discussion about the critique they were about to do. First and second period did pretty well with this. I’m at a loss on how to convince third period students to pay attention in their own self-interest.

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

One reply on “I am bemused.”

Engaging middle school students is rough on a very, very good day. Having two right now at home, I can commiserate. However, be heartened…mine are starting to show some spark of “getting it” and it’s just a great sight to see. Having an impact on an entire class will reap rewards, you just may not get to see them immediately. Ask my 6th grade teacher–I checked by in with him 10 years later and thanked him. He had thought I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t either, but apparently I was.

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