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Damn it!

I might have to go and read a book or two.

I have discovered myself twice in the last few weeks, assuming the role of teacher again. That snuck up on me. That whole questioning thing… Prompting thought and debate. “For goodness sake what’s the matter with me?” I thought.

Then a small but increasingly invading thought occurred and poked at my brain “Who was it that said that all artists are teachers?”

A question posed on Facebook, and a poke about Wikipedia has given me two names, either Josef Albers or Joseph Beuys. Both of them seem to have said things that skirt about the question. Maybe in my not very clearly defined academic haze, I have confused the two and invented my own quotation to fit the circumstances. I’m sure someone will correct me. I will go and read, but for the moment, it doesn’t matter, as it has started my own train of thought that isn’t going away.

I have spent a while out of the formal environment of the school now. So the thought of being a teacher doesn’t send me into a spiral of resentment any more. It is a noble profession. But I find I am loosening my own definitions of what it means to be a teacher. And also what it means to be an artist.

If we examine a spectrum of people, plotted along a line between teacher and artist: those who deliver the prescribed curriculum in the prescribed manner, would be at one end; the artist who is self obsessed, isolated and introverted at the other. In between are the really interesting people. Those who inspire and question and provoke and revolt and upturn and upset. Those who prod things with sticks. Those who start the argument just for the sake of it, watching the fun unfurl (my Dad). Those who wake you up as a small child in the middle of the night to watch the storm and the stars or the snow (my Mum). Those two would never have described themselves as either teachers or artists, and yet because of them, I am both.

So I will read a bit of Albers and a bit of Beuys, to see where this has come from. And examine it a little more perhaps.

Meanwhile, I know that Beuys said that everyone is an artist. I would like to say everyone is a teacher too.

I am an eternal optimist. I am naive perhaps and believe that almost all of the people are pretty amazing almost all of the time. I love to imagine a future when eventually we will get to the point where it is appreciated that we are all teachers and all artists, and instead of trying to belittle and devalue these qualities and inclinations, our society will encourage their development, and treasure those who have them.


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