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07 March 2003 @ 07:08 pm
Here's a random quirk about me: sometimes I dislike being conscious of the constant transitional state of language. "Constant transitional state" seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it? But it's true, for the meaning of the words we use is forever changing. It seems lately that there are words which I want to use, but know better than to do so - they've picked up additional, usually negative implications, since Webster's first defined 'em.


So, it must have an "outside" meaning in order to transcend "art therapy" into "art" and become something you can interpret?

The other day in figure drawing, he made some comment about "had I ever thought of proportion ...?" Part of my mind went "duh, what do you think I was doing last semester ...?," but another part realized that he was referring to my more immediate work. I said yes, but that it hadn't really mattered to me recently, since the way I had been working (mostly with my hands after laying down a charcoal "guide") had to some extent obscured the figure in particular works. His response? "Oh yeah, those ones where it doesn't really matter, because it's all dark mark-making."

Well, that chipped at my pride a bit, for I actually had spent quite a good deal of time working up a set of reasons and meanings for why I was doing what I was doing. I felt like it wasn't giving enough credit for my ideas (which have, of course, been had by other people before). Sure, in this one or in that one, proportions aren't important. But when I'm in the mood to use white and a few colors to bring a figure out of the darkness, to evoke a mood out of placidity, yes, proportion does matter to me.

I believe one reason (among many) that he wishes to steer me away from that direction is because he feels that it is a dead end for me. Yet, I find it odd that a man who is currently working on a series of black paintings makes a comment about how proportions don't really matter in what could be considered my "dark period." XP
Current Mood: lethargiclethargic
Current Music: "I Want Out," Generator Gawl
Alexander Williamszamiel on March 7th, 2003 05:22 pm (UTC)
The true cynic would like to point out to him that all art, from a certain point of view, is just "dark mark making." This includes literature and architecture, come to think of it, though the latter may be more "pile of stones"-making.
Miwa Satoshi: sillymiwasatoshi on March 7th, 2003 05:33 pm (UTC)
I've found that artists often make horrible teachers. Many tend to teach courses not because of a desire to teach, but because of a need for cashflow.

And since artists are emotional and often cynical folk, they tend to look down on those less experienced or practiced. While that's true with any field, it seems incredibly hypocritical in a field that is supposed to be about personal expression - and since artists are less likely to pull their punches, they can be harsh and arbitrary judges.

Writers and musicians also have this problem.

Nope, never dealt with any of this before. Not at all. XP
Kanashimi yo konnichi wahavetrue on March 14th, 2003 09:35 pm (UTC)
The Conundrum of Teaching
miwasatoshi: Very insightful comments.

Teaching is inherently challenging.

Teaching Arts -- fundamentally lacking in objective criteria of quality -- more challenging still.

What are some principles we might entertain as the conception of "perfect" teaching?

Off hand, I think of something like the following:

1) The "perfect" instructor is PATIENT. He is sensitive to, and understanding of the struggle unique and personal to each pupil, and thusly tailors the pace of instruction. Some pupils can and do want to go fast and are capable of it; some pupils prefer and learn best at a slow measured pace. Some pupils have phases in both states.

I often observe, in modern "education" (and perhaps it has always been so, but I can speak only to what I have seen) that "fast" pupils receive disproportionate credit for achievement. Partly, this is due to distortion resulting from our metrics. "Speed" of "learning" is easier to measure than "quality". And as a civilization, we have a passion for measurement. We do not, unfortunately, have a counterbalancing passion for understanding the limitations of measurement. (See Neil Postman "The End of Education" for excellent and eye-opening discussion of these issues.)

So, one result that many of you have seen and possible even experienced is the stigmatization of "slow" students as "stupid".

And yet, so many times have I seen the "slow" student eventually catch up to and surpass the "fast" student in the final arena of achievement and true learning. I see this in every area of human enterprise, be it school, business, code, tennis, counterstrike, you name it. And I say this to you even though I have always been "fast" in most things.

Can we reasonably say, then, that we ought NOT to equate, in learning and education, Quality with simple velocity?

* * *

2) The "perfect" instructor COMMUNICATES well. A simple thing to say ... not so simple thing to describe. And, as evidenced by the eternal struggle of professional communicators, sticky to master.

Communication is a feedback loop. I transmit to you (speech, poetry, gesticulations, whatever) then I pay attention to the result, depending on what I shall retransmit or move on to the next item. Sometimes -- often! -- I will need to change my entire communication plan based on the feedback.

To plan an entire semester of instruction in the absence of the recipients is to ignore the fundamental nature of communication. It assumes that all classrooms of students are identical. Where is the headroom for patience without schedule flexibility for judicious course-corrections based on pupil FEEDBACK? Where is the time allotted for exploration and discovery? Are we to assume, then, that the students themselves are incapable of posing New Questions that can lead to interesting explorations? Then why even bother?

* * *

3) The "perfect" instructor can and often does assume a perspective outside of "self".

Many sins of instruction result from an instructor's inability to apprehend a situation in any other way than his own, individually biased perspective. For example, my calligraphy instructor has his own, distinct personal tastes in styles and arrangements. He cannot help inducing distortion into his instruction as a result of his biases. This is human nature; we all do it.

The problem comes when instructors PRETEND to objectivity, denying the existence of this personal bias and distortion. They behave like salesmen and official agents of The One Perfect Truth to the ranks of ignorant pupils.

Wise instructors understand, profoundly, that their knowledge is personal knowledge; their skill, individual skill. They monitor their communications to avoid overpowering the pupils' individual path of discovery. Such monitoring requires leaving "self" and adopting a "disembodied" perspective. The wise instructor does not adamantly plug his distorted Truth; he serves the pupil in the capacity of an expert consultant to the architecting of the pupil's own Truth.

After all, do we not want our schools to graduate free thinking citizens, Individuals in their own right? Rather than legions of identical, well-trained drones?

* * *

There are, of course, other facets of ideal instruction but I've exceeded the maximum. To be continued.
HEADCLEANER: Delville Poemantitype on March 7th, 2003 06:41 pm (UTC)
I like that new icon. ^^ It's vaguely Amano-esque.
jaekyu on March 7th, 2003 10:49 pm (UTC)
I too shall enter the halls of higher artistic learning soon, and will have to endure being force-fed the 'visions' of other 'artists'. I'm positively watering at the mouth in anticipation -_-
Now's my chance to practice what I preach though, I'm going to try to maintain a small bubble of MY artistic purity, despite having to follow the motions of a good subservient student to please the higher ups and NOT waste my multi-thousand dollar tuition.