nicole rademacher

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh, the trials and tribulations of an artist and art educator

Today was the last day of the quarter, so to speak. I took on a mid-quarter class. So, technically I still have 3 more class of that (tomorrow and next Friday and Saturday), but otherwise my first quarter is over. A relief, in a way. I was totally thrown into this whole thing. Not knowing what I was teaching, until basically I was teaching it (which I now find out is generally common practice in academia). And additionally, teaching in the applied arts which, yes I know isn't that much different, but really, how it is taught is quite different - especially for someone who has always been on the fine arts side of the arts fence. The majority of the final projects this week went really well, but unfortunately one was not. So, this will be my first failing grade ever. I know that this is common, but the first is always the hardest. A friend of mine said, "They have to learn at some point that they only get out of it what they put into it." She is completely right. So my skin gets tougher. I am ok tearing a student apart (fine, not completely ok), but the whole grading thing makes my stomach turn.

The logistics of grading art are quite simple, really. Awesome is an A, Good is a B, Satisfactory is a C, Uh.... No is a D, and Completely Not is an F. I guess I never saw the value in grading, but that is completely idealistic of me. Many students, especially now aren't motivated and simply aren't interested in education, much less THEIR education. Oh, if it only were a perfect world every student would take initiative and responsibility for his/her own education. Ah, to dream.

As is to be expected, once a teacher, you understand your own teachers better, and in addition you have much more respect for them and feel ashamed of your own past actions (or maybe you were a perfect student...). As a teacher you then see yourself and peers (from long ago) in the actions of your students and reflect, "Oh times haven't changed only the methods of education." Students are always the same, but how we behave as teachers changes. Much of that is directed through technology, but more often than not (No, I do not have a degree in education) our teaching methods are influenced by how we were educated - whether that is a rebelling of the methods teachers imposed upon us or an admiration and imitation of their methods. That is where I struggle. Some methods were atrocious, but seemed to work. While others don't seem to have helped me in my studies, but made my experience less painful. That is journey, right?

And that is where I am at. I am about to embark on almost three days of solitude. I am about to stare at the wall, a tree, the grass, the sky, the lake... and think and mull over this past quarter, but truly over these past two years of graduate school, which I just finished, and all the time before that.

I will breathe.

Last night as I was about to go to bed, I thought I would read. It was almost 10pm and way to early to go to bed, but there wasn't much else I felt like doing, granted I wasn't exactly tired. I lain down and got out a book. Then, it occurred to me: I think, I will think. Thursdays (for the time being) are quite lazy for me. I spent the day watching some TV, reading news online, reading a bit of a book, writing emails, searching for festivals.... you know, normal stuff. What I realized is that I spent the whole day dodging thinking. So, I stared at the wall for a while. Then, I closed my eyes. Then, I stared at the wall. Eventually, I fell asleep - without any rush. What I did was clear my brain of unnecessary, irrational, anxious thoughts about life and the world. Then I think there may have been a moment when I had a few deep thoughts, just for myself, then I dozed.

I am sure that many people do that nightly, but somehow I have forgotten about that.

I am looking forward to a few days of unpacking my brain, of organizing some thoughts, and of being.

See you next week!

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