I do try to keep this blog just about my art practice, and not about my teaching too much. Initially that was because I already knew myself as a teacher, but was trying to get to know myself as an artist. I’m ok with that balance now, so feel more able, occasionally, to drop in a post about more teachery things…
This weekend I attended the NSEAD conference (link below).
It has been brilliant. The speakers (mostly) were totally from and with their audience.
Teachers (and artists) haven’t got time to listen to someone who isn’t interesting, informative, creative, useful, or at least entertaining! I have experienced all these things this weekend, and have come away, enthused about taking new projects into school, and livening up some of the stuff that’s looking a bit jaded. I think I was feeling a bit jaded myself as end of term approaches.
Sometimes… and this is going to be difficult to say, I want to choose my words carefully, out of respect for the amazing organisers, and wonderfully inspirational artists and teachers I met this weekend…. Sometimes… you need something to go wrong, so that you see in sharp contrast how fantastic everything else has been. Otherwise you might take the wonderfulness for granted.
Teaching teachers is tricky. Talking to teachers, as a teacher, is tricky. Talking to a room full of teachers among your professional body at their annual conference is bloody nerve-wracking. When I talk to teachers I have to be sure of everything I say, I have to be confident that I can articulate what I think and feel. Teachers and artists working in education should be respected for turning up to these things at the end of a term. They are all knackered. If you put your board out saying you are going to tackle an issue and 100 people turn up to listen to you. You need to tackle that issue!
I found myself quite horrified, that among all this talk of defending and championing our subject, of striving for excellence and integrity, that some people don’t think like this. We are not just needing to convince people who aren’t artists, art teachers, artist teachers and other combinations of similar words, but we have to convince those within our ranks too, that success in the arts is NOT just about knowing what formula to use to get an A*.