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Be Practically Unreasonable: You Never Know Where it May Take You

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I teach art, and I use technology to do it. I want my kids to be able to think creatively about a problem and then choose the most appropriate tech to solve it.

I have been working very hard to try to get some of my students -- any of my students -- to go to art school, without much success. Most want, understandably, to go to college to learn what most people would consider more practical skills, but that doesn't really make it if you are an artist at heart. I believe what one of my professors at Pepperdine University, Farzin Madjidi, told me once. He said, "Be practically unreasonable."

In another post, I mentioned two students, Fredy and Catelyn, who were on the verge of dropping out when we (they and I) discovered that they were filmmakers hiding in the bodies of high school students.

Well, recently, these two amazing kids were accepted into the Inner City Filmmakers program in Los Angeles. According to the ICF site, "Our mission is to open doors to possibilities for low-income, yet capable, high school seniors by providing free year-round professional- and business-skills training, mentors, and paid work opportunities in the motion picture and television industries."

This is the payoff for all the hard work, and validation for bringing technology and kids together! It's practically unreasonable!

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Penny Laurie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Ron,
I think what you are doing is terrific! It is something that I really want to be able to do myself when teaching. As a fourth year preservice teacher I have already taught a lesson to grade 5/6 using PS Elements. What I would like to know is what programs your using and how you use them. Have you used any 3d modelling programs or rendering programs like DAZ Studio (which is free)? I really want to use some of these programs and have ideas on how to use them but would really like to know what others might have already done.

ron smith's picture
Anonymous (not verified)


i teach Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Final Cut Pro, as well as some Office stuff, and various open source experiments. I have used Maya, a 3-d animation program (the one they made Toy Story with). It is very expensive and has a steep learning curve. I also have Blender, which is very much like Maya, but it is open source, so it is free. Even though it has a steep learning curve, too, you won't feel so pressured to get students to know everything about since you won't have to spend $600-700 per workstation for it, like Maya.

You can look at my website to see my lessons on a daily basis.

Amy Berger's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Now THAT'S teaching. Ron, given the tone of your writings, I have a feeling that you would give all the credit for this achievement to Fredy and Catelyn, and they certainly deserve a great deal. But were it not for you taking the time to give them the video project in the first place, who knows where they might be now. I hope this story inspires others to think twice before writing kids off. Thanks so much for sharing the story, and congratulations! It's a good thing you're unreasonable!


Penny Laurie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Ron,
Sorry I took so long to come back and respond. Life got busy with graduation and other stuff. I have played with Blender and know many people who use it, but found it very hard to learn myself. I have picked up a copy of Hexagon cheaply which I find is much more intuitive. I have also come across a program called Cosmic Blobs which is aimed at primary age students. Similar to Kids pix the user interface is quite easy for kids to use and the program is reasonably priced. Thanks for the link to the lesson plans they will come in useful. : )

It sounds like you have used many of the programs I have been investigating using. I have seen Maya, are you aware of there ple edition found here



J.P. Tuttle's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I second (third?) Blender. I'm a college freshman, and I've been using it for product design, as well as the occasional animation of mitosis or art project for several years now. There is a learning curve, but there are plenty of resources -- text and video tutorials, community forums (, etc. -- to help students (or teachers) learn the program. One particularly useful classroom resource would be this:

It's a Blender textbook written by a teacher that uses the program in their (yes, I know, I should be using he/she) CAD/technical drawing classes.

Hope this is useful.

-- J.P. Tuttle
Computer Science and Product Design & Innovation major at RPI

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