Pottery class

Pottery class
Pottery class

Rob Austin’s characterizations of artful making (low reconfiguration and exploration costs) reminds me of a story of a teacher and a pottery class:

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced. All those on the right would be graded solely on their works’ quality.

His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the quantity group; 50 pound of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on quality, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

At grading time, the works with the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of clay.

There is something to be said for failing your way to success.


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One Response to “Pottery class”

  1. Beth Peterson Says:

    This is a wonderful story and illustration! Pottery as a craft means nothing more than building the skills necessary….and pottery as an art has to have it’s foundations in the craft!

    Thank you for sharing this!

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