On retroactive documentation

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Hey! Master P! I just finished this really fun project and I’m very happy with how it turned out! My friends are really impressed too. I’m thinking I should enter it in a competition. They’ve encouraged me to do it. How do I go about documenting it before I enter? Can I back-document it?”

A reply from the Minister:

First? A few comments!

We are really happy that you are working on projects that you think are fun and that you’re proud of completing. Congratulations!

That’s an experience that we hope for everyone learning and exploring the arts and sciences.

We are also happy about your interests in A&S competitions and documentation. Both of these things, entering competitions and completing documentation, are great ways to share your research, to teach others, and to learn more about your studies.

Now? An observation to share.

Many A&S competitions are designed to support and encourage research driven projects. That means that the entries that score better are often built from the ground up and historically informed every step of the way.

The difference could be, for example, asking yourself “is this pretty” and “is this pretty in a historical way”. These two questions could create completely different projects. Both would result in “pretty” objects. But one would more likely end up looking historically informed. And that historically informed project would more likely end up performing better in a competition.

This also means that the people who typically enjoy these competition experiences the most are the people that started their projects with research and continued researching as they completed their work.

True, getting a “good score” on your project is not necessarily the same thing as having a “good experience” with a competition. People enter all the time with no expectations of winning. They may just want time for exposure to talk to people and to learn more. And that’s not just okay but also encouraged.

Also! Another observation to share!

Documentation is not just a tool for competitions.

Documentation is a communication tool. A way for us to share with others what we have learned. A way for us to teach others. And a way for us to show what else we have to learn. A way for us to make our ideas concrete. A way for us to stay organized.

We can do documentation all the time. Not just for competitions. We can do it for our award documents and our feast menus and our largess and our site tokens and our heraldic objects and all sorts of things. People can learn from all of these kinds of projects.

Documentation can be written down for a competition. But it can also be a blog post. It can be pictures on a webpage. It can be comments on a picture posted to social media. It could be an article published in the gazette. It could be notes on the back of an award document. It could be a piece of paper attached to largess. It could be notes on the back of a feast menu.

This is documentation that we use for educational purposes only and not also for competition.

What happens when we try to use it for competition, too?

That’s where that “back-documenting” part really comes into play. And that’s where people sometimes run into challenges.

What do I mean? Basically, when someone finishes a project, and then, after the fact, tries to work through all those steps of how and why they made the project. But they try to make those past decisions appear to be researched based and historically informed.

That’s hard to do. Why?

Because if an entrant doesn’t already have a well-developed historical eye, then the finished project may come out more modern than authentic.

It is possible, true. Some highly experienced people may be able to create projects that are strongly based in previous research that now basically lives in their mind. They have trained themselves to have a historical aesthetic. A period “eye” if you will. “Pretty” and “historically pretty” could be the same thing for them based off of their training. The objects that those people may be well-positioned to enter A&S competitions.

For most of us this may be really hard to do. And that’s when we start seeing entrants that may try to start “justifying” their decisions. And that doesn’t work too well. Here’s an example with clothing. This might be when people start with one inspiration, say someone else’s costume they find as a picture on the internet, or maybe a costume from a movie or a TV show, one that may really be more fantasy based. But then later try to work out how their project could have also been inspired by a clothing found in a grave find. A judge can tell that the work was not historically informed.

This is when entrants start having less fun entering competitions because their entries may not score as well. And we don’t want people to experience that feeling. We want them to have fun.

So, what do we suggest?

We think you should be proud of your work!

You started out on a path, you worked hard, you learned along the way, and you finished. Enjoy that feeling! That’s great!

Also, please do document your project. Talk about who/what/when/where/why/how. Share those things with people. It is a good way for you to help teach other people.

And, yes, please consider entering a competition. But, make sure that this project is the project you should enter.

And remember, not all competitions are the same. And not all competitions are focused on research-based projects. Your entry could be perfectly suited. Not sure if it fits? When in doubt ask the competition organizers. They will help you!

Maybe this project is one that you set out for a display. And not for competition. That way you’ll get to still teach people. You’ll still get to learn. But the historical aspects are not judged.

Then, you can take what you’ve learned, and prepare for a competition with a historically informed and research based project from the very beginning.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On those who are entirely research-oriented

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I’m not a maker, I’m a researcher. Does the East Kingdom have an outlet for those who do research but do not make things? Is there a way to share my research with the Kingdom, or enter a research paper into a competition?”

A reply from the Minister:

ABSOLUTELY!

I know. I know. It is gauche to use all caps when typing. (Unless it is Thursday, or so I understand!) I’m just really excited. My apologies!

Still. Why my excitement?

Because I love research. Many of us love research. Even those of us who make things. Or who perform things. Because the research part helps us all be better at the things we love to do.

So, while you’re not making anything physical, you are making the knowledge part possible. You’re learning. And you’re helping the rest of us to learn too. And that’s super important to the success of our organization.

So, yes!

We want research, in all possible forms, happening. It is encouraged!

So lets look at possible outlets. Here’s just a few!

Crown’s A&S Championship Competition:

That’s right! Research papers and projects are VERY welcome at the Kingdom’s top A&S competition. In fact, our current Kingdom artisans both were selected off of research projects. Here’s a link with more information:

Other A&S competitions:

Many of our local and regional competitions welcome research entries. Some may not state it directly, so, just ask! They may be able to accommodate your entry.

We also make the Kingdom Research Rubric available for these events. So it may be entered in a format that you are used to.

A&S Display Opportunities:

Please consider A&S displays too! Not everything is a competition. Sometimes events set up space for people to share their work too. Your reseach is work! Think about sharing it!

SCA Demonstrations:

This is basically an A&S display opportunity. Just to the public! Bring out your research and have some great conversations with people. And maybe bring in new members at the same time!

The East Kingdom Gazette:

Reach out to the Curator of Feature Articles. They may be interested in working with you to publish your research!

Maybe your local branch has an active newsletter. They could want content. Publish there!

Or maybe you could publish for the SCA.

Tournaments Illuminated
The Compleat Anachronist

There may also be some subject specific SCA newsletters. Check and see if there is another place your work could be wanted.

Classes:

Classes are not always about making a thing. Or learning how to perform a thing. Sometimes they are simply set up for learning. People might use the hour with a set of PowerPoint slides or a handout and give a lecture class. Just like you might see at a modern university.

At a local event you might not get many attendees. But even a few people could be fun to share and talk with while you cover your information. Wars and Society events might be suited well for more in-depth classes.

Personal Blogs / Social Media:

Self publish! House everything you are working on at your own blog. And then share that blog with others. Put your links to the Kingdom social media pages.

Or, skip the blog, and share your work directly through social media posts. I’ve seen a number of people successfully engage others through their research work with these posts.


Now, before you head out there, a note about communicating your research.

Know your audience.

Are you writing a research paper?

That might be best for something like the East Kingdom Gazette or Crown’s A&S Championship. That’s where you will find readers.

But, attendees at a display or a demo? Or people walking by your competition piece? They will not have time to read a whole paper.

For them, you may want to have a shorter synopsis of your work that you can share with them. Maybe samples, examples, pictures, notes, and the like. Things that are engaging and help you have a conversation and teach people. That’s great. Then you could follow up with the research paper later at another date.

That said?

I’m sure there are other ways to share your research. This is just a start. And by no means an end. I only answered ways that we share research within the SCA. Some of our members publish or teach modernly and well!

Is there a way you liked to share your research? Please share here!

Is there a format of sharing research from others that really worked well for you? Please share that here too!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On “mean peers”

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Master P! Can you help me with something…? There’s this art I want to learn, but, the Laurels who do it are snobs. They’re hoity toity. They’re unapproachable. What should I do?”

A reply from the Minister:

Let me try this. I’ll start with my reply, but then, add two stories to help illustrate my thoughts.

First, where are these assumptions coming from?

How do you know someone is a snob? How do you know they are hoity toity? How do you know they are unapproachable?

Where’s that coming from?

Is it because of the way they dress? Because they wear fancy dress-up Court clothing all the time? Is it because of whom they hang out with? Because they might be serving on the Crown’s retinue? Is it because of how they talk? How they laugh? How they smile?

Are you projecting something about their behavior?

Could it be how you were raised? Or the social norms you grew up with? Were you taught it was inappropriate to talk to others first? Were you raised to show respect by not approaching people in charge? Do you have cultural inhibitions playing a part of how you see others?

Is something else influencing you?

It could be your own biases coming into it. Your own prejudices. Your own past experiences interfering with your opportunities to learn. Or it could be the influence of your friends or your household. All of that could be coming into it when you judge someone as a snob or as unapproachable.

So, maybe try this?

Pause for a moment.

Be careful making judgments about people you don’t know. Be cautious making assumptions about people you’ve never even talked to. Or maybe only talked to once. Or just met in passing. First impressions can also be misleading.

Think about where these judgments are coming from. Maybe this has nothing to do with the Laurel at all. And maybe it has to do with your past experiences.

Remember, Laurels are people too. And, really, all Peers, at the end of the day, are people.

We might have bad days. We might have a frowns on our faces. We might have a headache. We might say the wrong thing. We might stick our feet in our mouths. We might make mistakes. We might have personalities that don’t match. We might have trouble making eye contact. We might be self-conscious. We might have imposter syndrome.

We’re people. We’re not perfect.

But for all that? We do try.

We love the arts and sciences. We love learning. We love teaching. We love building our communities.

So, give us a chance. Get past the assumptions and the pre-conceived notions. And share in the arts and sciences with us.

Here. Let me share some personal examples now. A couple of stories.

Story 1.

Me? I know that people call me snobbish, or hoity toity, or unapproachable. And it makes me sad. Because I try very hard to be friendly.

I also really like to dress up. It is one of the reasons I am in the SCA. And something I have done from the very very beginning of my SCA activity. I like pretty fancy clothing. I have spent lots of time researching my garments. I have spent lots of effort assembling my clothes. My friends have spent a good deal of effort making clothing for me. And I have searched out merchants who can help me with my look, too.

And, yes, just because I dress this way, people can find me unapproachable. These are people who have never even talked to me. I’ve not done anything, except dress up.

Story 2.

I was new to the East. Sure, I moved in as a Peer into the Kingdom. But I still didn’t know anyone. I was always self-conscious about fitting in. I was always worried people wouldn’t like me. (Sometimes I still am!) I was always afraid to meet people.

I remember seeing Mistress Eloise Coulter at events. She always looked impeccable. Her kit was perfection. Her composure always maintained. The more I learned about her the more impressed I was by her. She was a Landed Baroness. She was a Laurel and Pelican. She had decades of service and artistic contributions to the Kingdom. She was one of the best scribes in the Kingdom. She was the epitome of “The Dream” to me.

And I found her completely unapproachable.

Was that her fault? No. Not at all. It was wholly on me. It was my peer fear. My insecurities. My issues.

Thankfully, a common friend eventually introduced us. And I learned that she’s quite remarkable as a person. And one of the people I am most thankful to know. I’m sad that my inhibitions didn’t give us a chance to be friends earlier.

So?

Let’s give each other a try. Let’s forgive ourselves for making assumptions. Let’s forgive each other for having the occasional bad day. And let’s figure out how we can pursue awesome artistic adventures together.

Not sure how to go about it?

Walk up and say hello at an event. Let them know what you’re interested in. And ask about when you could talk more. They might be busy already! So, give them a chance to make another time to talk more.

Send an email! Introduce yourself and share with them what you’re interested in. Ask if they can help, or, if there is someone they think might be better to assist you.

Attend one of their classes and use that as a chance to meet them. Teachers expect to meet people while teaching. So, if you’re worried about being an imposition, this could be a great place to get past that issue.

Ask a friend to introduce you. Or maybe one of the local A&S officers. Or really ask anyone to help you. Get an introduction so that you don’t have to do it on your own.

You’re waning to learn. They may want to teach you. But, they can’t know unless you say something. Give it a chance! It may not work. But at least you have tried!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Notes from the A&S Town Hall, Nov. 1, AS LIII

Greetings from Master Philip White, East Kingdom A&S Minister!

Last week we held a web meeting as a way to update the populace on the status of the A&S Office in the East.

Here are some notes from that conversation for those who were not able to attend.

Accomplishments:

  • Reporting audit and updates – All groups who were at least three quarters behind have been notified of their lack of active officer. Those branches have now all been made current. Reporting continues to regional officers, landed nobles, and local seneschals. We’d like to have an online reporting tool and are working with the Kingdom Webministery for what’s possible with reporting.
  • Crown’s A&S Championships – Set regular and reoccurring competition expectations, advance announcement of requirements, updated rubric, updated entrant and judges expectations, entrant and judges training, and accepting documentation in advance. Also accepting requests for displaying artisans.
  • A&S Consultation Tables – Continuing to schedule and promote these throughout the Kingdom. Will also keep holding them at Pennsic.
  • Coordinating support for Pennsic A&S War Point and assisting the A&S General – Significant change from populace vote to judging by criteria in order to give more balanced results and better feedback and word fame for champion artisans.
  • East Kingdom University – Continued discussions about the future of EKU. Survey responses are varied and do not show a clear direction. The Kingdom Office continues to be open to supporting those willing to serve and/or host an EKU event in different forms. However, in the last few years, local events have filled the space and need for college/university events where A&S classes are offered. The Kingdom Office does not want to conflict with or hurt the success of these events.
  • Promoted communication and transparency – Reporting reminders, emails to officers, publishing in the Pikestaff and Gazette, announcements online, website updates.
  • Continuing the “Ask the Minister of Arts and Sciences” posts
  • A&S administrative classes – Continuing to offer these classes online and at events including subjects such as research, display, entering, judging, and organizing A&S activities.
  • Kingdom A&S Website – Continue to update content and navigation. Added A&S specific calendar. Looking to expand what’s on the calendar.
  • A&S Minister Handbook – Discussed need to update content although the current handbook is functional. Low priority because it has not been a highly requested document.

Follow up items:

  • Publicize the A&S website and its resources.
  • Encourage individuals to teach ongoing classes that build on previous sessions.
  • Check for resources on how to run college/university events for local branches.
  • Encourage local seneschals and landed nobility to spread A&S events throughout the year when possible.

If you have any questions please let me know.

I also announced that I will be stepping down at the end of my term of office in March at Crown’s A&S Championship Competition. This announcement will be made in the Kingdom Newsletter in December and January. If you have questions about the role of Kingdom A&S Officer and in replacing me contact me for details.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

~p.w.

East Kingdom A&S Office Town Hall – 11/1/18

Greetings from Master Philip White, East Kingdom A&S Minister!

We are inviting everyone to a general meeting with the East Kingdom A&S Office held through a online webcast.

A kind of “State of the Union” for the A&S Office in the East. Or you could call it a “Town Hall”. “Open Q&A with A&S” would be fine too. Anything like that will work!

We’d like to start by talking though the things we’ve accomplished recently in the office, then talk about what we are working on next, and then follow up with other ideals we are still trying to work on.

We’d like people to ask questions and make comments about any of these things items.

And then we’d like people to bring up anything A&S related they’d like to cover.

All are welcome! Come join us! Meet the East Kingdom A&S Office!

All that is missing is you!

Topic: East Kingdom A&S Office Town Hall
Date: Thursday, November 1, 2018 (11/1/18)
Time: 7:00 PM EST, 8:00 ADT

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/120158772

Or iPhone one-tap: US: +16468769923,,120158772# or +16699006833,,120158772#

Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833
Meeting ID: 120 158 772

International numbers availablehttps://zoom.us/u/acxUeB7kbM

Webcast address and conference call number will be announced the week of the meeting. Thanks to Master Mael Eoin Mac Echuidh (Michael Broggy) for his technical assistance in setting this all up!

Hope to talk to you all soon!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

~p.w.

On whether to enter Crown’s A&S Championships

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I saw you posted the rules for the Crown’s A&S Championship competition. Should I enter?”

A reply from the Minister:

Should a person enter?

Well, that’s not something I can answer. That’s something artisans really need to figure out for themselves. Instead of telling someone what they should or should not do, I try to walk them through a thought process to figure out what is right for them.

Here’s how I go about it. I ask a series of questions. Here’s an approximation of how I go about that interaction:

  • “Have you entered an A&S Competition before?”
  • “Have you read the Kingdom rubrics?”
  • “Have you visited one of the A&S Consultation tables?”
  • “Do you know what you want to enter?”
  • “Do you think it will be fun?”
  • “Do you have something to teach? Do you have something to learn?”

Some might read this and think I am pushing back on artisans. It’s okay to think that. I am pushing back on artisans.

But why would I do that?

I want people to have good experiences.

I want people to enjoy A&S Champs for what it is… A rigorous and difficult challenge where people are critically assessed and given thorough and constructive feedback while getting to compete against some of the best artisans in the Kingdom to represent the Consort and Sovereign as their champions.

I want people to have fun.

Not everyone will have fun entering A&S Champs. I know that. We’ve made mistakes as judges and as organizers. We try to correct those when they happen and try to avoid making them in the future.

One thing we try to avoid is people who are not prepared for the experience of entering A&S Champs. Rarely do they leave with a good feeling about A&S Champs. And worse they might leave with a negative overall feeling about A&S competitions and displays in general. Or maybe all A&S in general.

That’s not people having fun. I don’t want that to happen.

The A&S Championship competition isn’t for everyone. Competitions in general aren’t for everyone. Even displays are not for everyone.

So should an artisan enter A&S Champs? Only if it is right for them.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On the necessity of a blog for recognition

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Someone told me I have to do a blog if I want to get an award. Is that true?”

A reply from the Minister:

I felt like I have heard this kind of question before but I couldn’t remember if it was one that I had already posted about or if it was one I was still needing to write about it.

So I checked my archive and there it was.

“If I’m trying my hand at A&S, should I have a blog to document my efforts?”

I wrote my reply to that question almost a full year ago back in September of 2017. So, let me revisit my words from that post. And make a few edits to that content to make it fit this question better.

“Have to”. That’s where I’ll start. The only thing I think you “Have to” do is “Have Fun”.

Are you able to learn while doing it? Excellent. Are you able to teach while doing it? Even better.

Now about that blog.

Maybe you’d enjoy making one? It depends on what your goals are.

Blogs have a lot of good things going for them:

  • It can be just for you and you don’t have to share it with anyone.
  • They can be used for informal reflections on your work and progress.
  • You can make them less formal than typical documentation used at arts and sciences competitions and displays.
  • They can be more approachable to your audiences than typical documentation.
  • It is a way to teach people.
  • Your local students can reference it.
  • You can also reach a wider non-local audience.
  •  It is a place to house your research and documentation.
  • It is a way to record your progress.
  • It is a chance for you to show your step-by-step process.
  • It is a way to reach people who are also doing the same kinds of work you are doing.
  • It may push you to actually capture all of the work you do in one place.
  • It can be a starting off point for fully documenting your work if you hadn’t already done so throughout earlier blog posts.

Maybe I need to also clear up a misconception before finishing.

You are not required or expected to create a blog before becoming a Silver Brooch, a Maunch, or a Laurel.

You’re not.

Could it help? Of course.

Those Orders are looking to learn more about the historical research and activities you are pursuing. A blog is just one, of many!, ways to help you share those things. It also happens to be efficient.

Let me expand on this point over the last time I posted. And be more explicit about some of it.

Members of the order may want to experience your work before polling positively on you and recommending you for inclusion in the Order.

They will ask questions like “What events can I meet them at? Where have they taught? Where have they displayed? Where can I see their work? Can you share any class handouts? Can you share any documentation? Do they have a blog I can read?”

You see? That’s just one question among many. Order members, by asking it, are not implying that it is required. They are asking it because it helps them learn about you.

You can make it easier for them by putting your work online.

You’re then able to reach a larger audience more directly and quickly. Many members of the Order, but not all, will appreciate this option to learn about your studies and abilities. Some members of the Order could still want to experience your work in person. It is different for every member of the Order.

But! Please let me add.

If you are using your blog to help you demonstrate your worthiness to an Order, then, you will also want to make sure that you are adding value with your blog.

It is hard to teach people about your arts if you are posting pictures without context.

You would want to add your research, comments about what you have learned, thoughts about where you’d like to improve your work, your sources, and more.

And yet another thing.

“Blogs” can be a lot of things.

Yes. You can make your own webpage and set everything up there. Or, you can do other things.

You can also post information here on facebook. On your own page restricted to your friends or open globally. You could post information on SCA groups and art specific groups.

You can also post information on your Kingdom wiki page. Or on Google+. Or through google docs. Or other means.

They have different audiences, so, where you chose to post, means you get a different experience with what you share.

Okay. And, just one more item.

You’re not alone. You don’t have to be a computer expert to also share your work. You can ask for help.

We have an awesome support community that gets people access to the Kingdom Wiki. Use it! I did! That’s how I have anything up there at all! Because I asked for help.

You can also get help with how to post more effectively on social media or on creating a website presence. Start by asking for assistance. People will lend a hand or at least direct you to the tools online that can help get you there with a little bit of effort.

So, what to do?

Just ask yourself what you’re looking to do with A&S. And then ask yourself if a blog would help you with those goals.

Also?

Be prepared that it may take you a good deal of work and that you may get a very limited number of hits. Maybe no one even reads all this hard work you are doing. Will you be okay with that?

I hope so.

Even if you get only one reader? That reader could be the one person you need.

Maybe you help them learn a craft they’ve always wanted to do and never figured out. Maybe they teach you something you had trouble figuring out on your own. And maybe you make a new friend that builds into a wonderful creative partnership.

Oh, and not into doing a blog? That’s okay!

As I’ve written before, there are other ways to share your work! There’s teaching, entering competitions, participating in displays, making things for others, and more.

And now?

Does anyone else have thoughts to share? Tell us what’s worked for you. Why do you do a blog?

Maybe share a link of yours?

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On the fear of having to prioritize fighting over art

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I am both a fighter and an artist. I am aspiring to become both be a member of the Chivalry and of the Laurel. But people tell me I need to stop doing my art. They tell me if I am made a Laurel first then the Knights will not support me there. What’s the deal?”

A reply from the Minister:

Well. Where to start? Actually. That’s pretty easy.

These people are wrong.

First. You should do what brings you joy. If fighting and arting at the same time brings you joy then you should fight and art at the same time. If pursuing your goal of peerage makes you happy then you should pursue your goal of peerage.

Second. If the Royalty thinks you’re ready to join the Order of the Chivalry then they will offer you membership. Even if you’re already a Laurel, if the Royalty thinks you’re ready to join the Order of the Chivalry then they will offer you membership.

It is really as easy as that.

But, as with all things, it’s never really that easy. And it is always a bit more complicated.

These people are wrong. True. But, what else?

Working towards any peerage is hard. Working towards more than one peerage at the same time? Even harder.

Why?

Because there’s only so much time. Your attention will be split. You can’t help it. You’ll be practicing art when you could be working out at practice. You’ll be fighting in a tourney when you could be at showing at the art’s display. You’ll be teaching a class while you could be fighting for a war point.

You can’t be in two places at the same time. So that’ll just make it all harder.

Harder for you to gain your skill as a fighter. So then harder to prove to others of your skill as a fighter. And then even harder to build relationships with those people.

Harder isn’t a bad thing. And longer isn’t a bad thing. You just need to realize that it will be longer and harder. And that’s okay. As long as that’s your goal.

Remember.

You should do what brings you joy. If fighting and arting at the same time brings you joy then you should fight and art at the same time. If pursuing your goal of peerage makes you happy then you should pursue your goal of peerage.

If you don’t mind how hard it is or how long it takes? Then you can do both at the same time.

But if part of your goals of peerage have a time frame? Then you could consider focusing on one or the other.

And really?

Just have fun.

Work on your goals. Improve your skills. Teach what you’re learning to others. Build relationships with the people who are working on the same goals. Support each other in those pursuits. Serve where you may and volunteer for your groups.

Those are the things that will help you on your path of becoming a Peer.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On entering A&S competitions when you feel you won’t win

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I’d like to try doing an A&S project for competition, but I’ve learned enough to know that the materials I can afford or find right now are not perfect. Should I enter even if I might not do well?”

A reply from the Minister:

Yes!

Why? Because you said you’d like to try a competition.

So, yes! Please!

Try!

You know what I’ve learned in my time working on arts and sciences projects? Projects are not really “perfect” in the first place. We’re always learning.

We’re finding out ways to better execute our entries. Or we are discovering new avenues of research. Or our skills get better. Or we’re finding new ways to challenge ourselves.

I think many of the people who enter A&S Competitions, or who display their work, could readily tell you many of the ways that they think they could make their work better. And that includes when they would be making substitutions for materials due to cost or access.

That’s okay! That’s a way we could improve. So, enter that competition. And be ready to learn.

Start by reading the rules of your competition. Understand how it is scored so that you know what to expect. Ask questions if you need to. Say up front in your documentation that you’ve made substitutions and why you’ve made them.

And the? Be prepared to not get points for that part of your score. That sounds reasonable, right?

That’s okay to not get all of the possible points. Why? Because you already know why you are received that part of your score. You know it isn’t something personal. And you know it isn’t about the work you’ve done and what you were able to achieve with your work. Because you already have that understanding with your materials. Or, really, any part of your entry that you know you’re still working on to improve.

Instead of focusing on the points, put your focus on that reason that you’re entering.

What’s your goal?

Do you want to teach through your entry?

Then make sure you’re spending your time and effort on your display and your documentation and your conversations with people. Make the most of those teaching opportunity.

Do you want to learn by entering?

Then make sure you’re spending your time and effort asking questions. Then, work or listening, understanding, and taking notes on what to work on. Have conversations with people about your opportunities for growth.

Do you want to win?

Okay. Well. Maybe in that case you wouldn’t want to enter. Yet!

Wanting to win is okay! That’s not the issue. But. Instead? You might want to do another project that could get you closer to the score that could help you win. Or, you might want to wait to enter this project when you can get the more appropriate materials that would help you out with that score.

So, please!

Come. Enter. Share your work.

Enter and display works in progress. Share works that are not perfect. Share works that are your first attempts. Share works that need improvement. Share works that you think are your best efforts.

We want to see all of it!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

On the “wow” factor of competition entries

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I’d like to try entering King’s and Queen’s A&S Championship Competition, but I’ve heard that only “wow” entries do well. I really like to more narrow my focus and go really deep into my chosen subject. Should I enter even if I don’t have a “flashy” entry?”

A reply from the Minister:

I’m not surprised to read this question. It is a common comment for people to make. And, like many misnomers, it gets repeated and then spread as if it is a fact.

While you may regularly hear it said by others, let me clearly state that this isn’t the case.

This is likely an issue of perception versus reality. Perhaps people are remembering competitions from the past.

Perhaps people are thinking this happens with local events so that must be the same thing that happens at a Kingdom competition. Or maybe it is something altogether different yet leads to the same misconception.

Let me explain why this is not what is going on at the Kingdom competition.

King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championship Competition uses a rubric to identify the top entrants.

That rubric scores entries based off of certain criteria, including:

Complexity
Materials
Methods
Historicity
Sources

(https://moas.eastkingdom.org/cms/?page_id=514)

This means that there is actually a bias towards well-researched, exceptionally executed, and challenging entries.

This judging process is specifically designed to help judges avoid being distracted by “flashy” portions of an entry.

It’s not that that isn’t welcome. We love seeing pretty entries. By all means smother something in gold and silk and pearls. But! You better make sure it’s all historically appropriate. Because what gets us excited is well-made historical items and research. We are just as excited about a wall of bricks as we are excited about a page from a book of hours.

Still don’t believe me?

Look at our current A&S Champions. They both had research entries that were basically cardboard tri-fold presentations of the research they’ve been working on. Think more like a science fair presentation than something flashy.

Many people would have easily walked by their entries and missed them as something boring. This wow factor was all in the research they’d done.

They won because they specifically went narrow and deep into their subjects. The rubrics helped identify them as competitive entrants otherwise they might have been missed.

I hope that gives you some reassurance that King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championship Competition is not about “wow” factor.

Now, there may be some truth to the entry with a “wow” factor winning other competitions.

This might happen where the winner is chosen by popular vote (a popularity contest). Or it might happen in competitions where there are not published judging expectations and guidelines. Or maybe it could happen when the winner is chosen as a Champion for an individual person. A “flashy” entry might do well in these competitions.

What we have seen happening is that many local groups are stepping away from these kinds of competitions and are starting to use the Kingdom rubrics in order to give entrants more balanced feedback.

So. Back to your question.

Please enter in King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championship Competition! You’re doing work we’d love to see!

And for everyone else, please avoid spreading misconceptions. We are trying to create an inclusive experience that also encourages excellence and research.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.