Education goes past the processing and understanding of information. Although, understanding something is the first step, it is what students do with the knowledge which most interests me. My previous experiences teaching in the arts, from my undergraduate and now graduate career, have laid an expansive groundwork for my current teaching philosophy. I believe in having a pedagogical approach that allows students to think about the intellectual, aesthetic, and practical implications of art-making through a curriculum that response to and focus on the student and their life experiences; ultimately connecting the students to the wider cultural and economic conditions that molds our world today.
I am convinced that students must be empowered to experiment, to take creative risks, so as to master the skills they need to create, they are encouraged to do something new, to take chances in the pursuit of intellectual and creative growth. In my classroom, students are challenged to the make their projects, 1.) interact with the reading, 2.) promote visual literacy via proper historical and contextual knowledge, and 3.) demonstrate the importance of arts to document, reveal and critique. In the class Social Practice Labs, which involved mainly project-based learning that included fieldwork and community-based research, I guided around 15 students as they developed collaborations outside of the classroom. It was a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from many different backgrounds. I met with each student every week for 30 minutes to discuss the progress of their projects and answer any questions. The partnership I had with each student resulted in multi-disciplinary projects with beneficial goals based on commonality of views and measurable outcomes. Leaving an indelible impression, I learned that by presenting application of theory to “real world” practice, this provides learning outcomes where students analyze, and apply key concepts, knowledge, and research methods in a particular context. They also benefit from developing effective oral, written, visual communication skills – which are needed as they expand their independent understanding and bolster their decision-making abilities.
As a photographer and filmmaker, I’m strongly in favor of writing exercises like creative journals and reasoned, analytical responses to texts and work. I also like to pull from many literal and academic texts to supplement my teaching and regularly assign cross-disciplinary readings in literature, poetry, science, history and journalism. Through these methods, students test the strengths and limitations of their work and incorporate new knowledge against what they already know. This also helps students to speak about their work in class, so they can get comfortable with the process and develop their skills as art communicators and collaborators while simultaneously growing their talent as artists.
I have also noticed both in the classes that I took in college and the ones that I have taught that when the teacher introduces some of their own work or some part of their life that is relatable to the course material, that the response has been very positive. When possible, the appearance of guest speakers and artists can be extremely useful in creating a productive discussion. I learned that not only does students benefit from getting proper feedback, but it is the same for the instructor. I completed a program through the Duke Certificate in College Teaching called Teaching Triangles, in which graduate students observe each other’s teaching and provide critical feedback. That is when I realized that feedback from students and peers are extremely valuable and that I need to integrate the process in all of my classes and in my own practice.