Recognizing the subjectivity of the arts

I have started to dabble in a wee bit of English tutoring here and there as of late. I figure it might be beneficial to actually put my education to use, seeing as I’ve been inactive in the journalism world for a while now, and because I was so turned off by journalism in the work experience I had, I figure tutoring is a great means to put my English skills to use.

I recently gained a new client, and they are in grade twelve. They require assistance with essay-writing, so I thought I would go on a treasure hunt and see if I could dig up some of my old essays from both high school and my university days.

I wasn’t able to find any from high school, but I thankfully kept more than I remembered from university. I was sifting through them to see which ones would apply to my tutoring session in regards to topic, and, naturally, I was looking to see which papers I did the best on. I figure it isn’t great showing up to an introductory tutoring session with an essay in which I earned a whopping 60 per cent.

I think it is worth recognizing the inevitable occurrence of subjectivity in the context of the arts. In areas of study like math and science, there is, usually, only one correct answer. This sense of objectiveness does not exist in the arts, and I found it to be incredibly frustrating when I was studying English because I noticed a lot of fluctuations in my essay marks despite keeping my formalities and writing structure the same.

If a teacher doesn’t like your thesis, or your argument in a paper, you’re probably not going to do well. If they don’t like your vocabulary use, your mark will reflect it. If you prove a teacher wrong in a paper you write, you’re not going to great a great mark. Do you see my point?

Subjectiveness in the arts is unavoidable, however, I don’t think it should play into grading as much as it does.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.


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