Parents, teachers, and coaches can save a lot of time (and frustration) by understanding the statistics term “false positive”, as well as “false negative.
If you’re teaching performance poetry for example, and your student has spelled out every word in the poem, would you assume that they are going to recite it at an effective volume, inflecting the unique syllables effectively, and gesturing appropriately? If you make that assumption, the correctly spelled words are a false positive.
If you’re talking to your son or daughter, and you ask, “Do you understand?”, and they reply, “Yes”, do you assume they can explain or demonstrate what you are teaching them? If you make that assumption, the “Yes” is a false positive.
If you’re an artist who believes they can’t get paid for their art, because they’ve never gotten paid for their art before, then that experience is a false NEGATIVE.
So how do you get to the TRUTH?
If you’re teaching performance poetry, you need to know that spelling is NOT the mark of an effective performance (although spelling phonetically may be a hint), in fact sticking to the way something is spelled QUITE OFTEN hinders an effective performance of words.
If you’re a parent trying to teach your child, you need to know that “Yes” is NOT the mark of UNDERSTANDING. “Yes” can certainly be the mark of if they are LISTENING, or if they are being POLITE, but understanding is not about listening or politeness (in fact being polite can prevent the clarification, debate, and experimentation that leads to understanding).
You might have better results if you don’t train your students or children to answer “YES” to questions of understanding, but to reply with 1. an explanation of what they’ve learned from you, or 2. a demonstration of what they’ve learned from you. Due to the double meanings of many words (homophones), and multiple CORRECT meanings of many statements, people QUITE OFTEN have AN understanding, that is different from THE understanding which you want them to apply right now. The only way to know if they have YOUR particular understanding is to experience an explanation or demonstration. Everything else is simply politely misunderstanding.
If you’re an artist convinced you can’t get paid for your art, you need to know that your past lack of getting paid is not the mark of an artist who can’t get paid. In fact, art payment is one of the most subjective payments in existence. As much as, if not more than, any other profession, whether you can get paid depends on WHO is aware of your art, WHO is aware that you’re willing to sell original or duplicated versions of your art, HOW MUCH money they have available, WHAT function your art plays in social, political, entertainment, health, and other discussions, and…. how seriously you seem to be trying to make a living off of your art. Do you see the importance of that last one? If people think you’re doing something else to pay your bills, they’re not going to try as hard to help you make it viable, but if they value your art and they know that YOU value it enough to make it worth getting paid for, they won’t mind paying to help you keep going.
False positives and False negatives have one thing in common. They’re both False. Some questions can be answered with correct spelling, “Yes” or “No”, or past experience. Others can only be answered by focusing attention on applying a set of skills in the present moment.
I feel grateful to be a panelist, to be in Hartford, and to be an Artist. The actual time that matters is the time we spend creating Art, collaborating with others, passing wisdom to the youth, and inspiring dialogue, as we did on the last panel. I’m looking forward to the next forum, but until then, I can’t spend too much more time on critical blogs. I think I’ll give less of the spotlight to people who misrepresent us, and more of the spotlight to the important work we do every day.
That sums it up, but if you want more, I’ll add some highlights since I’ve got a half-hour before my next workshop. I’m definitely looking forward to the next forum, and if one doesn’t come to me first, I will personally put one together, because the subject of Arts in Hartford was not fully covered in the Edgy Arts panel, nor did anyone promise it would be. If you thought Arts in Hartford was fully covered in that panel, you have no idea how much is going on in our city. And if someone told you the subject would be fully covered in that panel, they tricked you. And you are gullible. No actually beyond gullible… to be honest if someone convinced you that all of the complexities of Art in Hartford would be covered in a 60 minute panel split between 5 panelists and a moderator, and an hour Q&A, you’re not just gullible, you’re an
idiot easily misled person (in my humble opinion).
1. The Mark Twain auditorium holds about 175 people, I estimate there were about 100 (many empty seats, could’ve been filled by people who were standing in the back of the room though - symptomatic of a city who’s biggest problem is diverse people scared to bump in to each other… YES I did bring this up ON the panel, AND EVEN RAPPED ABOUT IT - check the video). I’ve been in rooms where I was the only Black person, or non-white person, for example some of my classes at Trinity College. This was not one of them!
FACT: Thank you for coming out DJ Sabatoj, Margaux, Rich McGhee III, Tang $auce, Yosefu, Kenell (who I joked with about apparently not being in the room), Orlando (congratulations on getting into CCSU brotha), Pedro (thanks for the advice this morning, about how the spotlight can make people who would otherwise be our collaborators resentful and antagonistic), Deborah (who we sang happy birthday to, AND who won the prize of the night, AND who shared a delicious dinner with the panelists afterwards), and Carlos (Mr. Elephant in the room himself). I’m not going to list all of them, but this was not some kind of white mob or something. There is TREMENDOUS racial inequality in Hartford. But many are watering down the issue by exaggerating the make-up of the 100 person event. Even more ironically, one of my Latino students who was in the room got a job connection while there. Anyone who was bothered by the make up of the room could have invited Black and Latino people to the event - That’s what I did. That’s what I do on a regular basis. That’s why I have credibility when I bring up issues.
2. I got wind of a nasty letter from someone who felt the panel wasn’t white, rich, and old enough to represent Hartford Artists. I was also referred to a blog post that felt the panel wasn’t Brown, poor, and young enough to represent Hartford Artists. Both are correct, no panel of 5 can represent Hartford Artists. It’s a small city, but damn, not THAT small (population is about 130,000). We were chosen because we are a mixture of people who 1. get hired as Hartford Artists and 2. hire Hartford Artists.
But here’s what I’ll do: To the rich, I’ve actually accomplished more than you, know but I’m usually too busy working to post up my awards, press, etc. online. But I’m learning to promote better. And I promise to get richer very soon.
To the poor, I’ll try to get richer, so in the future I can be a much better example of someone you can blame for having too much money, attention, and fancy dinners. Right now, I’m not giving your argument too much credibility, I’m afraid.
As for being too young, I’m working on getting older, but so far I’ve only been able to do that one year at a time. Plus all the exercise and mindful eating doesn’t seem to help me age any faster.
As for being too old, sorry! I don’t think I can grow younger. Maybe the time I spend as a father and working with youth every day, passing on love, wisdom, and understanding will have some impact on them.
As for being too Black, or too white, sorry! What you see is what you get.
3. One of my favorite poets is the late Gil Scott-Heron. He said the REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Listen to his poem. Apparently, a blog commentator got an email in which someone else (I would love to know who) said that the Edgy Arts forum and Q&A was going to be either the stage of a revolution, or the panelists were going to “take over” the forum.
I didn’t get that memo, but in general if I say I’m going to be somewhere and do something, that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do. That’s why I have the credibility to work with young people on a daily basis. That’s why I have friends, it’s a matter of trust. I’m not inspired by people who provoke young Black people to solve their problems by violence, or by lying to others. That only breaks down our credibility, and devalues the work we do.
I have gone to more than a few protests, when I felt they would create a change. And many of them DID. However I also learned about 2 things when I was going to a lot more protests:
1. A PROVOCATEUR is someone who tries to get us to behave out of character and be more angry than we would - especially if we are Black, have dreadlocks, or otherwise fit a stereotype - to take credibility away from our movement. Young people, please look out for these provocateurs, when we go to jail or make sacrifices for these cowards, it only hurts our cause. When the young people who are creating the best possible example of AUTHENTIC URBAN ART at the heaven skate park went down to the urban planning meeting at the Hartford Public Library, I joined them. I was there to make sure they didn’t get bullied by people who were implying they would tear down their work, and I was there to speak, if they were too intimidated to speak for themselves…. BUT they weren’t, they proudly, and profoundly represented their cause, and I didn’t need to interrupt. http://heaveninhartford.org/
When Carlos brought up the issue of inclusion of Latinos in Hartford (44% of the population). I proudly watched him say what needed to be said, and didn’t interrupt. It’s important to know the time and space limits of your venue, and not mess it up, just so you can get some cool points from someone who will absolutely not be there to bail you out of jail, or tarnished credibility.
2. Some people put a lot of attention on a “revolution”, or press event, or some other panacea (1 thing that will solve all their problems), because they are in denial about the RESPONSIBILITY they have every single day. If you ever feel like you need to create a revolution in a day, or say something out of context in a press panel, then YOU ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH ON A DAILY BASIS.
I know what I do on a daily basis. The organizations in Hartford know what I do, and how little I charge for that. Most importantly the youth and artists I inspire, and who inspire me in return know what I do. The real revolution is 365.25 days per year. Don’t wait for the next panel, or the next revolutionary leader to GIVE you permission to improve your community. Do it now. And keep doing it. And do a little bit more every day. Without burning yourself out. If you can’t sustain your art, or your movement, than all those great ideas and creative works go down the drain.
In my next post I will list some things we said on the panel that you may have missed, and some things we said at the dinner after, that you may have missed. Looking forward to the next panel. Now I got a workshop to do, excuse me.