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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal/Random: Feeling Blechy with Jules and in Class; Art Institute of Chicago Forgery 
13th-Dec-2007 11:46 pm
Self-Portrait 2004
Blech. Felt crappy all day. Not quite sick, but close enough: you know that feeling? I guess maybe it started last night. Jules and I had been playing tag since the Regina Spektor concert and saw one another for the first time last night when we went up to Brady Street and grabbed dinner at the Emperor of China. I'm going to see her at her birthday party on Saturday, anyway, but this would give us more time to talk one-on-one. And then I turned out to be the Walking Dead. I was so embarrassed about how lethargic I was through dinner, that I couldn't help but actually apologize for it, a couple of times. Fortunately for me – and for her – she was the exact same way, which then mercifully made it kind of funny to hear ourselves trying to rally to say something interesting, or watch ourselves struggle to stay focused on whatever it was we were saying, much less what the other was talking about. So that made us laugh a bit, but we cut out early. She gave me a random gift of a stuffed Notre Dame Leprechaun that she'd found somewhere, while returning some music she'd borrowed and the Loeb/Sale's Catwoman: When In Rome, she having become a big Loeb/Sale fan.

After that, I had the worst sleep last night, both frequently interrupted by not being able to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch, and then those two hours being filled with wildly exciting adventure dreams which made the actual sleep exhausting. It was everything I could do, I confessed to my second class tonight, not to lie down on the table at the head of the class while I reviewed with them for their Final Exam tomorrow. But I managed to keep a more authoritative posture, if not presence. I had some fun/interesting chat with the students who stayed the latest, Michael Duxbury and Kelly Pechan, both of whom added a lot to the class and to my enjoyment of it by their intelligent and reflective questions.

They had some things to say about the nature and structure of the course that I found interesting, as well as the structure of the Final Exam, which had been something I'd been wondering about since last year. Jen had argued that the large amount of identification/matching I did on the exam was inappropriate to a college-level course, but I was unconvinced about that, given the remedial nature of Intro to Theology, where I was really starting at the beginning with students. Since this wasn't something where I was building a college course on the graduated knowledge they had from 3rd grade, 5th grade, 7th grade, 9th and 11th grade Theology or Church History courses, I really felt I had to stress such things as basic memorization of key names, concepts and data because I couldn't assume any of that in students, but it is all critical in that Theology is a subject that is forever intricately interacting with its own past and sources, and you have to have access to the basics and have them in your head for you to understand more advanced references or arguments. I suppose any science is that way. In fact, I suppose that's one of the things that makes Theology difficult to pick up in our culture: we don't grow up with anything more advanced than a 3rd grade religious ed course in our heads, and then when we're walloped by the real, adult version of it all, we want to shut it down for overloading our minds, and for seeming to make such a big deal out of something we've been conditioned to think we can do without.

The following story is included because it's fun to see that the movies aren't all hoopla: there really are nefarious art-forging families out there even scamming the great museums! Who knew?

Is Chicago Museum's 'The Faun' a Fake?
Posted: 2007-12-12 23:08:44

CHICAGO (Dec. 12) - A half-man, half-goat ceramic figure supposedly sculpted by 19th century French artist Paul Gauguin has delighted aficionados visiting the Art Institute of Chicago for a decade, but now the museum says "The Faun" is a fake.

"No one could think of any other instance in which anything like this happened here," the director of public affairs at the institute, Erin Hogan, told the Chicago Tribune for a story posted Tuesday on its Web site. "So we don't have experience in this area."

The museum said the sculpture is among scores of forgeries produced by the Greenhalgh family, which has been under investigation by authorities in Great Britain for nearly two years.

A private dealer bought the piece at Sotheby's in 1994 and the Art Institute purchased it from the dealer three years later.

A British judge sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh, 47, to four years and eight months in prison last month. His mother, Olive, 83, received a suspended term of 12 months, and his father, George, 84, was to be sentenced later.

Shaun Greenhalgh created the fakes, while his parents handled most of the sales. All three pleaded guilty earlier this year to defrauding art institutions and other buyers over 17 years. They had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to laundering the proceeds from the sale of a fake Egyptian statuette.

The creations by the Greenhalghs also included Assyrian stone reliefs, and several copies of paintings by American artist Henry Moran.

Hogan declined to reveal the purchase price of the discredited piece and said the Art Institute was talking with Sotheby's and the private dealer about possible compensation.

"Everyone who bought and sold (the work) did so in good faith," he said.
Comments 
14th-Dec-2007 07:27 am (UTC)
Jen had argued that the large amount of identification/matching I did on the exam was inappropriate to a college-level course

Speaking as one who counted about ... hm, at least a good fourth of her exam as some sort of ID/matching (at least), I am continually amazed at how my students can manage to cock up something that is theoretically "beneath" them even in a subject that they've been involved in since the beginning of their education.

As for the rest... you know I'm with you. Apparently the body drifts up to the surface of consciousness every 3 hours or so, and I can testify to this phenomenon, as I have been sleeping in precisely those chunks, then waking, sometimes puttering, and falling back to sleep. Waiting for G I nearly fell asleep.
14th-Dec-2007 07:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, there was a certain logic to her argument and I thought a lot about it at the time, but in the end it just didn't seem to work against the sheer fact of where my students were. I don't want to be jaded against the discipline of Education as a whole, but if there's ever been a subject where I felt people just shook things up for the sake of the professional need to publish, that's the one. At the same time, the accusation that teacher's fall into the trap of doing the Minimum Effort Necessary and self-justify like everyone else is clearly something to watch for, and I give a lot more effort to data-acquisition for my field than I do to teaching literature and performance-enhancement. It's as muddled as trying to pick a worthy candidate.
14th-Dec-2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Dear God, she would kill me dead. Heart Attack or a right hook to the face -- not sure which one would end up doing me in.

if there's ever been a subject where I felt people just shook things up for the sake of the professional need to publish, that's the one.

Which is ironic, given their critique of other disciplines prioritizing scholarship in equal or greater weight to teaching performance. (I will blame on just-awakenedness my temptation to enlarge upon my opinion of most education majors)

the accusation that teachers fall into the trap of doing the Minimum Effort Necessary and self-justify like everyone else is clearly something to watch for,

Yes, fair, though the best teachers I know are not martyrs -- martyrs are the ones who burn out by Year 3. Marathon, not a sprint.

*is shutting up now*
14th-Dec-2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, I certainly don't mean to imply that she's one of these raw Department of Education theorists who's all about changing whatever works to fit the latest theoretical paradigm or fashion: I never found her observations and critiques to be anything but reasonable and very oriented toward demonstrable student success.
14th-Dec-2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
And I was a little punchy and scattershot in my answer.
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