The art of possibility
February 7, 2014 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I have been trying to work my way through The Art of Possibility for years but it has defeated me at every turn. But I would still recommend it to anyone, even if you're not in the performing arts.
posted by tommasz at 1:44 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like this very much.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2014

tommasz, keep coming back to it. It keeps on giving.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:56 PM on February 7, 2014

Thanks panaceanot, that was funny, joyful and gently profound. Fun to watch the audience move from the usual conference "what am I doing here?" to rapt and grinning attention during the course of the speech too.

Also interesting to note the title and the reference to the Asian student describing his/her teachers as "always right." It was a tremendous shock to me when I first took on the position of "Kru" (derivation of "Guru") in a SE Asian university and very rapidly realised that it wasn't just my responsibility to impart knowledge in my field, but that I was also expected to provide judgement on, impart wisdom about, and foster development in other very significant aspects of my student's lives. Rather than simply getting a job as a lecturer, I'd unwittingly floundered into the deep deep waters of mutual obligation and responsibility that come with being a guru.. I'm not sure I ever really got comfortable with that, but it certainly led me down some very different paths as a teacher and led to my being a (slightly) wiser person.
posted by Ahab at 3:30 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

To quote the video: "everything is invented"

I've had inklings of this sentiment forming in my thoughts for awhile. It's helpful and reinforcing to hear someone with more experience and better equipped than I to articulate that same thought, and in such a positive way.

Everything IS invented, so why not seize that fact and wield for the good of all?

Thank you for sharing this, totally made my weekend.
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:04 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a college prof who did something close to this. B was what you got for doing the work, A was for something extra. He did some other things to create an environment that was about focusing on being your best. So having been there... yes, the thing that Zander describes is very real, and kind of shocking how, in a way, "easy" it is to achieve; and yet so few do it.
posted by rhymes with carrots at 7:08 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a high school teacher. We just had parent conferences last night. A few parents of freshmen were utterly freaking out about their kids not having 4.0+GPAs. This morning, a colleague reamed me out for being too easy on a student last year, so now she's taking heat for giving the child a B (no, everyone doesn't get an A -- far from it! -- in my classes). I'm always torn about grades; I've seen so many students blossom with just a bit of praise, just an acknowledgment of possibility. I've seen the reverse, of course, too. This was really great and thought-provoking. I'll be sharing it with my colleagues for sure. Thanks for posting it.
posted by katie at 7:15 PM on February 7, 2014

When I started watching the intro to this video, I was a bit suspicious and pessimistic, but within the first 90 seconds or so, I could see this guy is good - very good.

I owe a significant part of who I am today to the efforts of my high school music teacher. His methods were a bit different than Zander's, but both were heading to the same destination - to bypass that part of our brain that tells us either "we can't do this" or "eh, I kinda tried, so this is good enough."

Sure, there were a couple great teachers in high school I had that inspired me to seek out new ideas and concepts and open my mind to different ways of looking at things, but it was my music teacher that was the one who refused to settle for anything but my best efforts, called me on my bullshit when I was just phoning it in, and developed in the entire class a level of camaraderie, teamwork, leadership and responsibility that still surprises and stays with me and many of my classmates over 25 years later. He took a tiny band (of no more than 25 instrumentalists at most) at a rural high school from a rag-tag bunch of band geeks into a well-oiled machine that was winning marching competitions in the fall, and with two years of hard work, had us performing Holst's Mars and doing it damn well, at a skill level far beyond anybody's expectations.

Then he was replaced for some reason before my junior year due to some office politics thing, and we found ourselves on our own. But what he built didn't disappear - we were still as tight as ever, and that ideal was passed on to the new kids that came in, and it was kind of odd for our new teachers to adjust to and keep up with in those first few months - they were good teachers, but their previous experience hadn't exactly prepared them for us. It sounds a bit cheesy and over dramatic, perhaps, but looking back it seems so very cinematic. If it would have been a film, it would have been a mix Mr. Holland's Opus, School of Rock, a bit of Spartacus, and a bit of The Bad News Bears.

Of the 25 or so students that were there when he began, I think at least five of them have gone on to become music teachers themselves, and the rest of us still carry what we learned and the bonds we made back then with us today.

So thank you, Mr. Cox, for a damn fine job.
posted by chambers at 9:13 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not to devalue his talk, but this reminded me A LOT (in terms of both content and delivery) of Landmark Education courseware. 'Standing in possibility' is straight out of EST/The Forum; I would be astonished if he's not somehow connected to Landmark.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:07 PM on February 8, 2014

So I googled this guy... and yeah, he's totally a Landmark course leader. I knew it. I did a bunch of Landmark courses in the late 80s/early nineties, and it was all EXACTLY like this, down to the specific phrases and concepts, the way he uses the writing boards, the presentational style, everything. I have seen this talk a hundred times; the only thing that differentiates this from any other Landmark presentation is the fact that he's a conductor and the lack of visible enrolment tables at the back of the room.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun, uplifting, motivational talk, and its message is a good one. But there's not much there there.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:31 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

How fascinating!
posted by crazy_yeti at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

But there's not much there there.

Only possibility.
posted by panaceanot at 2:34 AM on February 10, 2014

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