Dr. Roy S. Fluhrer

Someone once said, “Learning is a risky business.” I hope that meant without risking anything you rarely gain anything. Education is safe. How often are we asked to extend ourselves, to venture beyond the “comfortable”? Education is predictable. There are standards, curricula, rules, codes, and tests; and if we master those and learn how to play the game, we have a right to expect the reward. Not in the arts. In the arts it’s different. Unless you risk, unless you are willing to fail: to have the courage to fail – then you will, indeed, remain in the comfortable zone of mediocrity. Each day at The Fine Arts Center, your student will be asked to think again, to dig deeper, to look again, to start over, to seek the pattern or, better, to create a new one. That can’t be done unless the student is constantly turning over the possibilities, testing the edges, seeing something for the first time, trying it, failing, and trying it againMy background is the theatre, and the stage is a place where rehearsals are held, a place where actors test hypotheses and where their willingness to fail, to experiment, to go where an impulse may lead them is necessary to success. It’s no different for a dancer, for a musician, for a poet, a filmmaker or a visual artist. All manipulate their materials to find just the right answer, their individual answer to the problem that has been framed by their artist-teachers. Individual answers.Here your student is an individual. It can’t be any other way if we are to remain true to the principles of the creative imagination. The answer isn’t in the back of the book; it’s not in the text; it’s not on some score sheet from a testing organization. It’s inside your student. What do they bring to their studio? Carl Rogers, the great humanist psychologist, said that the willingness to risk failure is a crucial part of what it means to be creative. You can’t fail, though, unless there is an atmosphere that permits failure, encourages it, and doesn’t punish students for taking a risk. That’s what we do: create the atmosphere that pushes students to new discoveries and rewards them for reaching, for growing. Without failure there can’t be excellence, and excellence is what we expect. We’ll teach them that from failure, that from being unwilling to settle for clichés, to search for what is unique, will come not only “A man who makes no mistakes makes nothing.” I am one of those who wander the halls during the summer months, looking into the empty rooms, cocking an ear and hoping to hear the jumble of sounds of students hard at work. The Fine Arts Center is a lonely place for much of June and July, a hibernating building that will only awake to its true purpose the second week in August when the students come streaming through the doors. Then we come alive, the blood flows freely and the halls pulsate with the energy of students eager to throw themselves into their art form. I come alive, too; so does the faculty. We are one part of the educational equation, and in order to be complete we must have the other: the students.The energy is palpable. How often have I heard parents, visitors and guest artists talk about being able to experience that feeling when they come through our doors. Our returning parents already know about how special the Center is; it remains for our new parents to experience it.Take the time to visit our classrooms. See the work our students, your children, are producing and discover what is right about public education.