‘A Show Of Instance’ Brings Back The Polaroid

             A simple recipe for coolness: 1) be ubiquitous and fun, 2) become obsolete but remain an object of nostalgia, 3) wait at least a decade, and then, 4) come struttin’ back into town.

            Polaroid photography will celebrate just this sort of return to prominence this week with ‘A Show of Instance’ at The Artful Dodger.

            The exhibit, opening from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29, will include Polaroid images by 14 local photographers, whose expertise ranges from professional to first-timer.

            Paul Somers, fresh off his project to resurrect the Super 8 film format as co-founder of Harrisonburg’s first annual (and extremely successful) Super Gr8 Film Festival this fall, is one of the Polaroid show’s organizers.

            “I’ve always loved the Polaroid,” said Somers, comparing its instant reward to the digital format that has replaced it. “The difference is that the [Polaroid] format makes you far more conservative and cautious in your picture taking, which translates to better-planned images.”

            The Impossible Project, a company that bought Polaroid’s last remaining production plant in the Netherlands in 2008 and has since begun releasing new instant film for Polaroid cameras, is one of Somers’ inspirations and a sponsor of the show.

            ‘A Show of Instance’ will run for just one week ­– a nod to the format’s quickness – but Somers plans to bring back future editions every three months.

            And so, Viva la Polaroid – familiar, simple, quick, and still somehow magical, an image that appears from a black nothing between your fingers over a few long seconds.

            “This …film that develops right in front of your eyes was created 60 years ago, and is still incredible,” Somers said.

In Support of the 10-Point Grading Scale

Switching to the 10-point system will not lower the bar for Rockingham Co. students because their teachers will likely change the manner in which they grade slightly enough to make the change less abrupt than some perceive it to be. This idea of the bar being lowered appears more like simple pessimism to overall change.

The change will balance out for several reasons. First, most teachers will likely raise their standard grading procedures to meet the change of scale, thus keeping the standards the same and only changing there numerical representation in order to make them consistent with colleges, universities and the majority of the nation?s public schools. Second, the teachers who do not change their grading procedures at all will be balanced by those who do. The amount of potential detriment here is extremely low and in no way substantiates a refusal to join the majority of public schools already using the 10-point scale.

Universities say they look at grading scales and are able to distinguish between the different grading systems, but it is unnecessary and simply redundant to ask them to spend extra time trying to approximate equivalencies between student grades per grading system. As a parent and former public schools teacher, I simply cannot assume that the institution of higher education that my children wish to attend will distinguish them from other children who come from schools using the 10-point scale.

I have heard institutions such as UVA claim to make the distinction between grade point scales when looking at GPA scores, but I have yet to hear how exactly they do that. Perhaps they use some formula for students to equalize all the GPA scores before assessing the scores as a whole. Even if this is not the method, they obviously are claiming to do something of the sort out of fairness. Therefore, out of fairness they will in the end render the distinction between grading scales useless, unnecessary and simply irrelevant.

The counter argument here is that students will work harder for an A in the current system because they will need a score of 94% in order to get it. The problem with this consideration is that it ignores other potential changes within the system that will balance out the admittedly abrupt change of going from the current system to the 10-point system. Overall it seems teachers would readjust their grade giving procedures making it require nearly the same effort to get an A in a 10-point system as it is to get an A in the current system.

All assignments are not numerically equitable. A math test translates to numerical grading practices easily, whereas an essay does not. Even if the teacher uses a rubric to grade student writing, they will at some level ask themselves ?Is this an A, B, C, D or failing paper?? Oftentimes this will be the starting point and from there the teacher will approach a numerical grade based on the merit of the particular paper among others receiving the same letter grade. In this circumstance I see very little potential for negative change from going to the 10-point scale.

There is no doubt that the change would require effort and there may be a period of getting used to the 10-point scale, but it would be worth it in the end. I have yet to hear the school systems that have switched from our current grading scale to the 10-point scale discontented with the change they decided to make for the sake of simplicity and fairness. So the question I pose to parents, teachers, administrators and school boards working in the current grading scale is this: In a national system such as the public schools, which rely on standards and the consistency of standards, why would we refuse to use what has become he standard grading system of US Public Schools?

This post was submitted by Paul Somers.