back to school
Well, I have arrived in Edinburgh and begun my masters programme. The first weeks of the course are being spent unpacking what art education has been in the recent past and could be for us. As an OCA tutor this has proved enormously useful for me and my students. Accessing art education theory and being encouraged to think about it in a structured way has helped me reaffirm my vows as it were with my beliefs about art education, but also introduced me to concepts which I had not considered fully enough before.
I found the first week of being both student and tutor a little unsettling as it was hard to change gear and I think a couple of students may have received rather hard nosed reports! I am aware that I need to avoid dragging my level 1 students through a vicarious post graduate degree. Overall though I am pretty confident that my being at Edinburgh University will be a very positive thing for my teaching and my students as the energy that comes from being structured in my research will filter down in my writing. I can disseminate anything I feel would be of interest and also have a much better back up if a student query requires me to do any research..
One of the main things to hold in mind as a tutor is that you are just another person, working alongside your student. I do have more experience both practically and theoretically than my students usually, but I am not more creative, or interesting or valid in some way than them. I learn from them as much as they learn from me and that process of respectful symbiosis is vitally important if your goal is to support students to make their own work – not yours.
I am finding now as I struggle to make sense of course requirements and expectations, that I am remembering successful student strategies and borrowing from them. Time management, self confidence, fearless risk taking, passion; these things I have seen in my students, and now I look to do myself.
Time management is a funny one. It really doesn’t matter how many things you have going on in your life. My most productive student is completing his courses promptly despite working full time and having several children. For others, myself included, it is so easy to get distracted or simply not have enough of a system set up to ensure that things become routine. I’ve heard the expression ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’ and I think there is probably a lot of truth in that. As I settle into the schedule of full time art production I find that time seems to expand to accommodate what I need to do. Self confidence can be hard to manufacture, but in fact a certain humility gets you to the same point. I am attempting, rather than necessarily faking confidence, to be less selfconscious so that I’m not scared because I don’t have so far to fall. I have seen this time and again come up as an issue, people learning much more slowly because they are scared to mess up. I often have to stop myself from writing in tutor reports ‘please drink at least two whiskies and try this again’. Passion is born from a love of ideas for me, and it was one of my students that reminded me that the best way out of a lull is to follow up on a good idea. I am relishing having given myself the opportunity to dedicate some time to pursue my own ideas with tutor support.
Funnily enough, students on my course are required to maintain an online learning log – so I will be joining in on that too. Perhaps that is my come uppance for always harping on about them.