Maintaining Quality of Experience
One of the challenges in managing a closing course is to ensure that the remaining students not only get the chance to complete the relevant modules but, of equal importance, is the experience they have whilst doing so. One of the ways we are managing to do this is to continue to deliver the course through team teaching. We have had for many years a team of part-time tutors who, as with so many others in this field, been willing to teach for one or two days per week. This loyal band is still with us, even though the amount of teaching I am able to allocate each person has been greatly reduced.
A central tenet of our course structure has been the link between student attendance and tutor presence. The students must attend for one day per week (six year model) or one and a half days per week (four year model) over three terms per year. Every module is delivered by a tutor or, in later years, a team of tutors. The essential ingredient is that when the students are in the studio, so will be their tutor. This has ensured that the questioning and sharing is a regular expectation and that the exchange operates in multiple ways – between tutor and student, between student and student, between the whole group. As the students’ knowledge and confidence develops they learn readily from each other.
As with many degree courses, our students develop work in a wide range of practices – painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, drawing, installation, performance, to name a few – which requires the teaching team to engage with ideas and projects outside of our own ‘specialisms’. However, being able to timetable different tutors across each module ensures that at some point there will be specialist technical knowledge available for all students. Instrumental in this team is our one technician who also works alongside individuals with advice and guidance. So to be able to draw on four tutors in addition to myself, provides a continuity of experience for the formal aspect of the students’ learning.
A student activity
Last weekend one of our students, Maud Lannen, was working with a team of performance artists under the direction of choreographer Joe Moran at Nottingham Contemporary http://dance4.co.uk/event/artists/2014-11-08/arrangement. Part of a whole weekend of performances, Maud was one of 9 performers, selected through auditions, who presented the work The Body. The opportunity to work with Moran, the other performers and his dance troupe, was invaluable to Maud, nourishing her own practice and the projects with which she is currently engaged.