Steak and Rice

Nick Jaffe

Nick Jaffe asks, Why does art making in schools have to serve anyone’s purposes but the student artist’s?

… One day I brought a few extra steaks and a lot more rice.   Lunchtime came and soon the 7th grade clique drifted into the studio along with a 5th grader or two.  “Did you eat your lunch?”  I asked.  “Hell naw!” one girl answered, “I don’t even know what that was.”  (The food at this school was all precooked off the premises and wasn’t particularly edible).  “Cool,” I said, “I’ve got your steak and rice.”  I served the food out onto some paper plates and handed it out to the girls and the two 5th grade boys.  Everyone looked a bit freaked out, but they began to eat, uncharacteristically silent.  Finally, the ringleader of the 7th grade clique said, in a slightly abrasive, almost angry tone, “Mr. Jaffe, what is this FOR?”  I must have looked confused because she repeated the question and then added, “What did we DO? Like, what is this FOR?”

“Why does it have to be FOR anything?” I said, genuinely annoyed.  The girl smiled and laughed.  She was clearly satisfied with the answer and the affect. “I guess it’s for eating,” deadpanned one of the younger boys.  And then the students proceeded to eat, talk, and make way too much noise until it was time to be late for class….

[Full article in TAJ 7(3)]

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