My philosophy of teaching is entrenched in the values and work ethic set forth by my former professors. I believe that everyone has the ability to teach, but not everyone has the experience or patience needed to present information in a manner that is productive for the student. The instructor must allow the students to discuss and practice techniques that are to be learned, because, in order to fully understand something and also to retain that information one must be able to talk, or at least give their opinion about the material as well as utilize the techniques or concepts in his/her studio work. This discussion also reinforces the students’ knowledge of the specific assignment and techniques that he/she will be assessed and lessoning the “I didn’t know we were going to be graded on that” syndrome.
The basis of teaching and learning is through the interaction between the teacher and the student. I feel that a student that respects his/her teacher will act in a way that will make the classroom environment conducive to learning and intellectual growth. In order to understand this and utilize this process, the teacher must be willing to give honest constructive criticism to the student in order to appropriately evaluate and encourage the student's growth. This can be accomplished through one-on-one discussions and individual assignments that are critiqued or discussed in a studio setting. The critique is an essential teaching tool as it gives each student a chance to present their work and discuss the concepts, techniques, personal connections, mistakes, and successes in front of their peers. This also allows the instructor and the students to discuss issues that may arise with each composition or concept and creates an environment that promotes self-expression and personal growth within a group setting.
Every classroom or studio has students on both ends of the spectrum. The studio environment allows students with a wide range of abilities to excel and challenge themselves, or be challenged, according to their individual effort and time invested with the assignments. The ability to formulate an idea, and to transform that idea into something which might be called a work of art is as equally difficult as it is potentially rewarding. My approach to teaching the art making process to a class as a whole does not change from assignment to assignment. The only thing that changes is the way I teach or explain the process to each individual student depending on their ability or understanding of the material at that time. A student that is struggling with a technique or process can be approached for further discussion or possibly another demonstration reintroducing the technique in a different way that may help familiarize that student with the subject matter. On the other hand a student that grasps the information faster can still find the challenge of refining the techniques or concepts of the assignment while expanding their knowledge base of the material.
The best strategy to foster student creativity is to allow the students to make the work or assignment their own. When a student feels a personal connection to the material he\she will give a stronger effort and will be more willing to experiment with the media and techniques accordingly allowing for multidisciplinary concepts and theories as well as failures, successes and “happy accidents”, creating a catalyst toward making the strongest artwork that one is capable of making in this place at this time.