#resist feels ubiquitous right now. i'm not super excited about the idea of radicalism or activism becoming a trending activity, but like all things shoved down our throats if i really think about what resistance means i have to admit i'm intrigued.

in the political sense there is always something to resist right? whether you are liberal, progressive, conservative or just plain whack-a-doo there is the pervasive feeling that in government there will be things we disagree with. if having an opinionated 8 year old has taught me anything - we humans are wired to be contrarian. i think some of us see it as a game. i think some see it as a point of pride. i know in the classroom i'll play devil's advocate. i'll argue a side i don't even necessarily agree with simply to try and model that there is more than one [or two or three] sides to everything.

in teaching i feel like i encounter resistance in my students these days more than i used to [or maybe i'm just getting grouchier and less tolerant?]. picture if you will a student who doesn't want to follow any suggestions. i get it. if you are in an art class, i'd say chances are pretty high that you perceive yourself as thinking outside of the box. if you've been making art for quite some time, you could have some skill. sometimes this resistance is warranted, or it pushes me to innovate my approach - which is good. but one of my number one pet peeves in the classroom when i make a suggestion about what they could do to improve, or to try something that is out of their comfort zone, is when a student says "but i like it. this is how i want it to be". this is resistance in an insidious form. this is resistance just for it's own sake. it's lazy and it's honestly counter to the one of the very core ideas of education. you are supposedly going to college to be exposed to ideas that are outside your norm - TO LEARN - which to me means doing everything you can to not just fall into your standard tropes. even as culturally we are becoming more and more comfortable with turning college into a consumer experience - one where the student/payee is supposed to solely gain a marketable skill - and i, as the supplier, am supposed to bend over backwards to make everything palatable. fundamentally i would argue this is NOT what college is about, and until i retire [either by choice or by force] i will continue to dig in my heels. in the end it is i that is resisting your resistance [yeah go ahead and wrap your head around that]. 

resistance can be prevalent in day to day life. i resist having to pack a lunch for my kid 4 days a week, cleaning the toilet, doing my accounting, putting away my laundry [this i am really really bad at].  i resisted running a tie dye class for my kid's school [where i made the above bag], but in the end it was fun. resistance tends to rear its head when the task is mundane, boring and yes yes here is where you tell me that my artwork has so many boring and repetitive aspects to it. and i say yes yes i am not resistant to that at all in my practice. i kind of stupidly thrive off it. 

so here's where it gets confusing - and/or interesting depending on the day. i think in some ways resistance is a driver, right? if you are weight training you increase the amount you lift as you build muscle. if you stay in the "safe zone" you are static [aka no muscle growth]. i think sometimes the things we are most resistant to can be the things in the end that underlie a discovery or innovation... for me in the studio i didn't want to have to sort through and re-organize all the objects from christine and my last chroma exhibition. even though ultimately it was for a good thing - we will have a permanent home for it this summer !

resistance and procrastination are such friends. but my kid - she wanted to sort through the stuff. mostly because she asked if she could keep something and i said yeah, i'd probably let her abscond a little treasure in return for sorting. 

so we did it. and in doing it we devised this system. i had used trash bags when i first sorted. i sat in the middle w/ a giant box of crap and put trash bags around me. i tossed items in by color. but w/ two of us and these large sheets of tyvek there was no room on the floor. she was excited to make the labels for each color. [mama i just made a mistake spelling orange but we both know this bag is the orange right?]

i was excited at how the whole thing LOOKED. [it looks even better now that the bags are fuller and you can discern the color through the plastic]. all that resistance... for nothing. but not really. it's like that old adage - you can't cheat when living life. only after certain experiences will you gain certain knowledge [this is true for things both small and large. tying your shoe is impossible until you can. you have no idea what it feels like to buy a house until you do]. there's no shortcut. and sometimes, sometimes i think the overcoming the resistance makes the end result a little bit sweeter.... you? 


Anonymous said…
thanks for an insightful post.

it CAN be (more than) a bit sweeter when one overcomes one's resistance and finds one can do something differently, maybe even better. on a personal level behind the resistance is often fear: of change, or failure, or (believe it or not) even success.

having spent more than 30 years in a career where i tried to help people overcome their resistance(s) to change i can definitely empathize with the frustration you sometimes feel as a teacher. it is NOT always easy!! afterall, you KNOW with the certainty that comes with experience, that it is for the other person's benefit. but they don't. then the success you can experience at times makes it worthwhile...i hope!

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