For my students and for myself, as well, I want education to be a practice of liberation. To do that, I establish respect for individual voices in the classroom and I affirm their desire to become critical thinkers. I listen intently to their views and questions and encourage them to develop their own authority as designers and artists. Fostering an environment of mutual respect, I seek to instill in students a sense of safety, which makes possible the kind risk-taking and thoughtful dialogue that leads to growth. I am there to guide, not to dictate.
For over ten years now I have taught a variety of art, foundations, sustainable design/architecture and furniture courses to a diverse cohort of learners and a range of ages. No matter the type of class, my enthusiasm for the subject matter is fundamental to the success of the course. The more the students see how engaged I am, the more stimulating discussions become. Developing an appropriate concept is often pertinent to studio classes, but unfortunately desire on the part of the students is not always there. Addressing that is sometimes difficult. On these occasions I try to understand what the students’ intentions are in the class, along with how aspects of their personalities could help with the development of a concept. This allows for me to see the nature of a student’s connection to the content, and how I might promote deeper engagement, while helping to foster the students’ sense of ownership for their creative process.
Students essentially are works in progress working on their own works in progress. When they are encouraged to take ownership of their work and feel that their voice is affirmed, they are most deeply engaged in learning, and so I seek to support them by shaping assignments that are closely related to their interests. Only by growing into their fullest selves can they do their best work as artists, designers, architects - and as people, too.