Teaching is not only providing for the immediate educational needs of students, but also giving them a broad foundation and a wealth of experiences to draw upon as they grow and develop throughout their personal and professional lives.
Community and leadership are principles that are to me a necessary part of a sound learning environment. I strive to provide students with a sense of both, working to create a setting where a student can see the relevance of their base of knowledge as a thing that is meaningful and something to be shared. Cultivating an environment where they feel a true accountability to their arts community and to other students is also important. This effort produces a kind of camaraderie that brings forth friendly competition, which fosters personal growth and spurs students to take calculated risks - to do work they could only accomplish because of this kind of cooperation. In other words, they do better work because, as a whole, they push each other beyond the comfortable boundaries they have set for themselves. This kind of team or community setting is a large component of my teaching philosophy, as it builds a more diverse learning environment for the present and enduring friendships in the arts for the future.
I came to university teaching after years spent as an independent artist. I have also been a resident artist and know what benefits that can afford one’s career. In addition, I have taught classes in many different places, both at universities and craft schools. These experiences are significant when working with students, because I understand firsthand what is required if one wants to make a living at producing the work they feel compelled to create. I also understand the spectrum of options that are available to them after graduation should they not feel inclined in one direction or another. Opportunities like the gate project and also in the down time when we do projects or activities together outside of class are where we get to know each other and have the time to talk and explore the expectations and desires they have for their career. These are the times I feel most helpful and when my instruction is taken best to heart. Taking the time to have these one on one, less formal interactions is time consuming, but exceptionally rewarding.
Teaching is as much about what you instruct students to do as it is about the experiences you afford them and what they learn from those experiences that you could never put into words or build into a structured exercise. It takes this multifaceted setting of opportunity, tutelage, mentorship, community, scrutiny, teamwork, dedication to purpose and accountability to bring about true learning.
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