Having read what students (including you) have said about grades in their statements at the end of this quarter, I want to share my perspective on that subject, and to offer a distinction that you (and all the other students I have taught this quarter) may find useful. Many students have said, I tried hard, I did my best, and so I deserve an A.
But that kind of thinking confuses two important areas:
1) an inward awareness of your own current capacities and skills, and the extent to which you have exerted yourself toward solving the task at hand.
2) an outward awareness of the task at hand, and what it might look like to complete it with mastery.
If you don't understand the difference between these two awarenesses, then difficulties arise. If you depend on grades for validation, then you may undervalue your efforts when you don't receive an A. If you use your own internal process as the only point of reference for gauging the value of your work, then you lose the opportunity of seeing the task on its own terms, and in that way, of improving your understanding.
When I was an undergraduate, I took a REALLY hard Paleontology class, more or less in honor of my childhood love of dinosaurs. I worked and worked at it, and still wound up with a C. That made sense to me: my best efforts did not represent complete understanding of the subject matter at hand. I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had stuck with a tough class and done my best, and I accepted that my grade reflected the limitations of what I had been able to achieve. Drawing and painting are no different from Paleontology in this respect. You can work hard at them, and still not come to the level of mastery that is possible in the assignments you have been given.
So, I encourage you to keep going with your studies with courage. Do your best. Be kind to yourself. Look around, and learn to recognize excellence when you see it. Not as "my excellence," or "your excellence"; "her excellence," or "his excellence" - but as a kind of non-possessive quality that resonates deep inside you, and arises unbidden, in response to the wild variety of this life.
I wish you all the best.
Julie Püttgen is an artist and meditation teacher.
108 Names of now