I believe that I have two main responsibilities as a teacher: firstly, to communicate necessary knowledge and techniques, and secondly, to encourage each student’s creative development and overall growth. Academic rigor needs to be accompanied by openness to new ideas and to individual exploration. I believe strongly in the necessity of a good foundations program in any art field, and Ceramics in particular. With technical knowledge comes the freedom to experiment; both are absolutely essential components in any fine arts curriculum.
I encourage students’ creative development and growth by tying in assignments to personal exploration and engaging them in critical dialogue about both technique and content. Assignments are graded based upon students’ research and preparation, technical competency (appropriate to their level), degree of creativity, and overall effort. I maintain an emphasis on technique and craftsmanship, however I encourage students to push themselves and to experiment in order to broaden both their knowledge base and their sense of what is possible.
I enjoy teaching introductory ceramics classes, because they are an opportunity to initiate creative processes in students. Additionally, many of the techniques taught in these classes, such as pinch pots and coil building, have a historical significance. Students are therefore receptive to image presentations and lectures on historical ceramic techniques and cultures. Therefore, I preface each assignment with image presentations, ranging from historical lectures to images of contemporary artistic practice. I also include a very brief introduction to ceramics chemistry because I believe that this demystifies the material. Finally, I include active instruction on critiquing techniques so that students can learn to think and speak critically about both their own and others’ work. In advanced classes, students become more aware of the nuances of form and surface, and it is exciting to watch them develop their own unique artistic voice.
In summary, I believe that teaching is an opportunity to initiate creative processes in students. As such it is a privilege but also a responsibility. My goal is to give each student the tools to allow them to do their best work possible, and to inspire each student to connect to their own creative potential. Ceramics is a field that allows for a range of approaches and techniques, and I aspire to teach students competence and self-awareness of their own potential within this exciting and expanding field.