Thursday, September 01, 2005

Teaching & Learning

When I started this work, I thought that there was a radical approach to teaching and learning, and that approach would be one I would learn and practice. (By "radical," I mean an approach that encouraged significant growth and change in learners.) This is probably rooted in my teacher-centered understanding of the classroom. (It is safe to assume that if a teacher is radical, then the classroom might be radical.) Overtime, by watching New Urban Arts unfold, I have grown to appreciate a myriad of approaches to teaching and learning, some traditional and others quite progressive. What is radical, though, is what happens when these diverse approaches are on display, as they are in our studio.

This became clear for me in a conversation yesterday with Jennifer Rice, a former student and staff person, who talked about how the numerous artist mentors and students, working at once in the studio, provided countless examples of approaches to making art, sharing work, etc. And, when each of these approaches are on display, as they are in our community, they inspire a sense of possibility. Students see others in the studio and see ways of approaching art that are different from their own. They might consider experimenting with that approach, or at least learning about it and incorporating ideas into their own practice. It is quite the unusual experience, since most of us are accustomed to making art in a solitary way.

In my conversation with Jen, it occurred to us that the diverse approaches to teaching and learning the arts in the same space gives students a sense of possibility and an appreciation for difference. Perhaps it even expands their understanding of who they are and who they might become.

Tyler Denmead