An Ethic of Excellence – A Review

An Ethic of Excellence – A Review

Questions Answered:

1.) What is the significant and memorable point or thought of this text?
2.) What essential questions does the author generate for the reader OR what significant questions are raised in your mind, but ignored by the author?
3.) What sections or statements are difficult to understand?
4.) What ideas/information is interesting or useful to future art educators?

In the text, An Ethic of Excellence, author, Ron Berger, describes how students can achieve an ethic of excellence in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. The students that have an ethic of excellence in Berger’s classroom are more well rounded and have an high standard that they hold themselves to. Not only is this student strong in their achievements but they also make for extraordinary citizens.

How do they do this you may ask? Simply this, they explore, experiment and create work that is likened to that of more mature students many years older. These compassionate students value integrity, responsibility, respect, and hard work. The school culture of excellence is so compelling and supportive to students that they grow with every draft of work they create.

Drafts of work are vital to the success of this ethic of excellence philosophy. Students, no matter the learning styles or personal background are never satisfied on their first, second or even fifth draft for a project. Instead, students in grades Kindergarten to Sixth grade belabor over making multiple drafts of their work refining details and creating quality work of fine craftsmanship. They have peer-to-peer critiques as well as exhibitions outside of the classroom sharing and showcasing their exceptional work.

As Berger suggests, the key to excellence is born from a culture of excellence. By developing conditions for excellent work for students, their work becomes something of a work of art, “a beautiful work” according to the author.

As noted throughout the book, schools need to shift from quantity to quality. One excellent point from this book is that in an average eighth grade Japanese math textbook, there are a total of eight topics. The eight topic have simple details leaving much of the work to the teacher to teach. Where as an average eighth grade textbook from the United States has sixty-five topics.

How can you become a teacher of excellence? Berger suggests that by offering students more trust, responsibility and support, teachers. School systems may even have a wonderful byproduct on their hands too. The schools and teacher will have better student performance as the students will most likely rise to the occasion of quality work and an ethic of excellence.

Berger also feels that teachers today nee to plan together, work together and support each other to be a teacher with an ethic of excellence. Collaboration is key! By working in collaboration with others, teachers can also create an ethic of excellence within their own life. By implementing Berger’s ethic of excellence over time, students will become strong students, with more confidence and integrity of work.

A thought to ask yourself and discuss is, are we teaching our children to provide a quantity of work or a quality of work. As a prospective art teacher, what are you interested in creating in your classroom? How would you create an ethic of excellence in your classrooms?

Austin’s Butterfly


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