If you do a Google search of quotes on “quality vs quantity”, you’ll see an overwhelming consensus on quality as the more desirable of the two. BUT, is quality always more important?
Whether in friendships or in work, or just in life as a general rule, quality is pitched as the thing that matters most. Like Steve Jobs famously said, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”
The quality vs quantity debate
But the quality vs quantity debate might end differently when it comes to learning something that’s best mastered through practice. So much of what we want kids to learn calls for practicing. Therefore, it’s worth considering the value of quantity in these cases.
Maybe you’ve heard the *story about the ceramics teacher who divided his class into two groups. One group would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced. The other group would be graded on the quality of their work, even if it was just a single piece. Here’s what happened…
”Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.” ~ *from Art & Fear (affiliate link) by David Bayles and Ted Orland
Author Ray Bradbury also recognized the value of quantity when he said, “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
When quantity really counts
So, it seems we may need to make an exception to the quality “rule”. When kids develop new skills by creating a quantity of work, they learn to not fear their mistakes but to grow through them. That doesn’t mean they don’t try to do their best. But it does mean they don’t hinder their growth by stressing over each finished product.
Why not think about ways you could apply this concept with your own students? Maybe experiment with a “Sketch 100 Faces” or “Mix 100 Colors” Challenge. Or try a warm-up activity like “Drawing __ Circles” (you choose the number) to encourage kids to loosen their grip and press lightly with their pencil.
Have some fun with quantity, and watch the quality soar!
an inspiring quote:
“To be successful, you have to have quantity of quality.” ~ Mark Frauenfelder
Try beginning with quantity and encourage kids to keep practicing until the quality appears. Then they just need to keep going…