Recently, I had the opportunity to see a group of youth perform at a vocal recital. (Ellen and Andrew Mahan have just opened up a studio called Gateway Performing Art Studio. They have group of talented individuals that are out out of this world.) It was amazing! It was wonderful to see the array of talent in the room. There were individuals who had just started taking vocal lessons as well as veterans. The instructors had students perform based upon experience and development. Watching the students showcase their development was wonderful to watch. I would imagine all the students were nervous. The novice students would pull at their dresses or pants. They would stare stoically into the audience as their voices would hit different notes. The more experienced students would transform into their song. Not only would their voices tell a story but their faces and body language would tell the story. There was a progression during the recital of the different students’s  development. The more advanced had been instructed to take more risk. To stretch out of their comfort zone. The novice were being stretched just by performing in front of family and friends. What I loved the most about experiencing this event was the growth and experience. Art in its purest form is never complete. There is not an end point. It is alive. It is living! The artist may have a point in which they display their work but then audience or observer moves the art to the next level. They have an opportunity to experience the art. Some will give feedback and some will just share their experience. The artist can choose to take the feedback and use it as a teaching point. It may allow opportunity to correct. Or, it may provide an opportunity to see their work from a different perspective adding to their confidence. An artist is taught that it is not about the destination but about experiencing the journey. It is about being what God has created you to be and savoring the moments along the journey.

As the new school year begins, I pray that we could view our students educational experience more like art; instead of a destination, based upon the regurgitation of information to get a particular grade. Yes, evaluation is an important part of growth and development, but it should not be the goal. Growth and learning should be more valued than a grade. It should be about opening doors. It should be about possibilities and opportunities.
Will you choose to focus on the art of learning verses the destination of a grade?
kevin polky, CADC, LCSW