Monday, March 02, 2009

Tales From Tha Artivist: When Psychological Size Goes Wrong....

Note: Psychological size deals with interpersonal relationships/arrangements and how people function or don't within these relationships. It's all about knowing where you stand or what the pro-wrestler Rock used to say "knowing your role" in regards to what is expected from the individual as well as from the collective as a whole from these relationships/arrangements.

I can give a great example of when psychological size becomes dysfunctional. Four years ago I was working my second straight year as a visual arts teacher at an arts summer camp in Memphis. I actually worked the inaugural year of the summer arts camp and thought it to be a very rewarding experience. Although there were difficulties both with the students as well as with the administration, the good definitely outweighed the bad. So when the founder/director asked me back for a second year I was very much thrilled to once again share my enthusiasm with kids who in many instances are not exposed to any arts education in their regular schooling.

However, one thing that cut my motivation some was the fact that I although I made a commitment to come back (some didn’t) that I wasn’t offer a true incentive to come back. I thought that the director could have at least offered a raise for coming back as a show of gratitude (after all, she was grossly underpaying me in terms of experience and expertise, but nevertheless I saw the importance of the program).

There were also a communication problem between myself and the administration that became more pronounced as the days turn into weeks. Special needs kids as well as kids with certain learning disabilities were put into some of my classes without the administration informing me. I felt this was dishonorable and a true disservice because I basically was kept in the dark about some of the emotional and psychological issues that some of my kids had. If I have known certain things about certain students I could have handled certain situations that arose better and in a totally different light (for example, class disruptions and exceptional difficulties grasping certain assignments).

One day I had a very disruptive and unruly young girl student act a fool in class (more so than normal). I ended up disciplining the young lady by taking away the assignment she was working on and making her stand in a corner. When she really started to cut up, I lead her by the arm out of the classroom into the hallway for a talk. The director of the program was present for most of this interaction and even herself reprimanded the young lady for her outrageous behavior. At the moment it felt good to finally have the administration show some backbone in handling this situation. I thought this would be the turning point in letting the inmates run the asylum. Needless to say I was proven wrong in less than 24 hours.

The next morning when I came to work I was summoned to the director’s office. There waiting for me was the director along with the mother of the rude child the day before. Before I could say anything the mother verbally tore into me, claiming that I inappropriately touched and verbally abused her daughter and saying that I have no right to touch or verbally abuse her daughter. I was shocked, dusted and disgusted. I am being accused of exaggerated claims of physical and verbal abuse while the director who was present for most of my interactions with the young lady and who verbally reprimanded the girl herself said absolutely nothing in my defense. The mother even went so far as to threaten me with an arrest and jail time (her husband was allegedly a Shelby County Sheriff or Memphis Police Officer). After she settled down, she stated that she realized that her daughter could be a hand full and hyper. After taking that verbal lashing I could “takes no mo’”. I told them both that I was resigning; their body language told me they were shocked.

In reality I did not want to go because I knew I was doing well. The real victims in this were the kids who wanted to learn. But for me I knew that the low pay without administrative support wasn’t worth it. I felt that with weak leadership like that, there would be many internal and external problems that an organization like that wouldn’t be able to overcome. Needless to say within a year’s time the organization was out of business.

Remember The Revolution Won't Be Televised But It Will Be Blogged, Podcasted & Now Broadcasted Online!!!

Artastically, Communally & Revolutionarily Yours,

Tha Artivist
W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Founder and Minister of Information

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