So, I've been taking a bunch of art classes. I like learning new art things, and generally enjoy these classes, except for my classmates. While most people seem to understand what the teacher says the first time around, in every class there is at least one person, usually more like five, who simply cannot make sense of the language.
I'm not talking about non-native speakers. I've got a lot of sympathy for people who simply don't know how to translate technical words into something they can understand. I'm talking about native speakers of English who sit there in a demo and ask the same question five times, seemingly unable to understand:
Teacher: You take the temperature of the developer and look it up on this chart to find the developing time. See, this developer here is 68 degrees, so we'll process the film for 9 1/2 minutes.
Student #1: So the developing time is 9 1/2 minutes?
Teacher: If the temperature of the developer is 68 degrees. If it's 70 degrees, see, it says to develop it for 10 minutes.
Student #2: So which time do we use?
Teacher: You check the chart in your lab manual for the time.
Student #1: There are lots of times here. Which one do I use?
Teacher: You find your film in the list. You find your developer in the list, too. And then you find the temperature of your chemistry to find the time. See, we're using Kodax Tri-X 400 and this Lauder developer, so you have two choices. You can use the developer at full strength and it will take this long [points to chart] or you can dilute it 1:1 and it will take 9 1/2 minutes at 68 degrees, which is what we're doing now.
Student #2: So do we have to have a thermometer?
Teacher: Yes, to take the temperature.
Student #3: Can we use those times even if we're not using the same film?
Teacher: No, you have to look up the film you are using separately. But the assignment requires the Tri-X film.
Student #1: So we process the film for 10 minutes?
Student #2: How do we know how long to process the film?
This went on for HALF AN HOUR.
OK, I get that I'm an impatient person, and I also understand that I tend to learn this sort of skill really quickly (especially anything involving mixing chemicals). But were these people even listening?
Even better, when we had class yesterday and had to produce our developed film, one person had simply NOT DONE one step in the developing (adding fixer), and she wondered if that was a problem. Um, yes. Notice how your film is not transparent? That will make it a bit rough to do any kind of printing, don't you think?
Then there's ceramics. High-fire glazes are kept on one side of the classroom. Low-fire glazes are on the other side. There is a good reason for this: low fire glaze in high-fire conditions is VERY VERY bad for the kiln and anything else in there. So why is it that every class has one person who mixes the two glazes? And why is it that every time we talk about glazes, we need to discuss why it is that glaze looks different when it's unfired? This is just how it is, no amount of questioning it is going to change it. Come ON, people.
The worst part is that all this dithering about stuff that's written on big signs all over the room (well, now I understand the need for the big signs) means we don't get to get to the meat of the matter. I'd really like to understand more about the chemistry of glazes, for example, or maybe discuss different methods for developing that will produce interesting results. But we're too busy repeating the same basic information over and over for the people who are categorically unable to listen and comprehend. It's a good thing I'm not a teacher, or there would be bodies everywhere.