mentoring/teaching philosophy fleshing out

ha! ok. I think this is what I do in the academic environment and why I think it is important. I am intuitive so sometimes it is hard to unpack why I do what I do…but I do trust the heck out of many of my teaching/group impulses. i realize most don’t publicly process their philosophies, but shoot, i publicly process my entire life (blogging since 2006) with only a few undisclosed thoughts and topics. it is my life practice; it is a form of transparency; it is a hope that my process might be useful for others and might make their own life’s a smidge better or bring a slow small smile to their face.

Mania* of making, mania of the mind, are worth harvesting, expanding, directing and releasing. As artist educator within foundations, my role in this process is to facilitate a sensitivity to listening. I see this listening as rather all encompassing and enabling of an awareness of self, others, materialities, processes and practice, traditions, physical, social and historical contexts, passions, subject matter, methodologies, and so on. This kind of perceptiveness requires me to equip students with a capacity to dwell inside and alongside of things and thinking so that making becomes a reflection of their listening. Access to the rhythms that come from deep listening allows what might otherwise remain submerged and unseen to manifest in ways that become meaningful. I have taught in the sciences, faith and the arts—each a creative endeavor and fundamentally parallel in the need for this sensitivity to listening, connecting, and acting upon.

Deep listening, connecting and making actually requires a high degree of risk taking, openness to critical feedback, and exposure to failure. This artistic risky behavior and openness is cultivated through a series of communal and curricular factors.

Beginning in the very first studio, it is critical to build in forms of interaction that emotionally tether the students to one another and to their sense of belonging within the program. These connections are initially accelerated when classroom norms are disrupted through a series of non-graded tasks that bring the students into opinionated mini monologues (about the arts), extremely close physical proximity (via a small team task), team performance of task, and laughter followed with a large group critical dialogue exploring the discrepancies between team intent and viewer perception. These forms of connections, teams, tasks, and dialogues set the stage to implement a curriculum and work practice that peaks curiosity, promotes artistic risk taking, critical dialog, and physical engagement. This tethering creates a workspace for the individual to engage in active listening, connecting and acting (making).

Built into the scope and sequence of the curriculum are the practices of successful artistic habits of deep listening—research, idea development, capacity to harvest from personal passions, critical reflection and discourse, collaborative unpacking of discrepancies between intent and outcome, deconstruction and adaption of working processes, work ethic, time management, opportunities for multiple iterations of a single concept or materiality, attention to craftsmanship, and professional presentation of work. Traditional attention to design elements and principles and craft are attended to but in ways that supports and emphasizes the habits of perceptiveness.

These deep listening habits are not only the key to successful art careers but they are highly portable and will transfer to other potential job/life activities that the artist may embrace to support their artistic practice.

I believe this is simply an extension of my life philosophy (written 2008).

i know making, writing, mentoring and loving are part of who i am.

  1. MAKING allows me to discover things
    about my world and self that would
    otherwise remain submerged and unattainable;
    it brings me joy, dirt and laughter
  2. MENTORING (teaching) gets me outside of myself,
    teaches me, helps me unlearn what doesn’t belong;
    it brings me delight and purpose
  3. WRITING connects me through silence to my self,
    God, the world and others; helps me remember
    who I am and am becoming and how i fit;
    it brings me faith; it reveals my wounds;
    it opens me
  4. LOVING fills my body and soul,
    it connects my fragments of being
    it gives me the desire to both give and receive;
    it strengthens me; it brings me hope.

when i neglect any of these, my life, who i am, limps. or when i get too focused on how to eat and forget to walk, i limp. to walk in my own skin and know joy, i must attend to making, writing, mentoring and loving and not overlook the details of eating but not focus on it either. and so now i must walk my path in my own skin, take steps toward eating*, and i must attend. it may take me a while to figure out how to do these things, but i will.

*eating refers to the daily details of things i need to do in order to have food, shelter and such.

also relating to my unpacking and doing/understanding life


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