Good teaching comes down to asking students the right questions: I ask my students why they make certain choices, what they like about a given material, or one detail that particularly resonates with them. I emphasize this student-driven inquiry for two reasons: First, to get to know how my students think in order to deliver content that is relevant and meaningful to them. More importantly, I want my students to acknowledge their own thinking, trust their intuition and have confidence in their taste and logic.
What I want for my students to take away from my art program is breadth, perseverance, critique and introspection.
I share with my students a diverse scope of materials so that they can explore the same concept from a variety of angles. In a contemporary art world where all intentions and theories are valid, I reinforce the concept that, similar to their perspectives, all forms of communication are correct and that no artistic language is more valuable than the next.
I promote diligence, stamina, disciplined practice and patience. In all lessons and practices beyond the studio, I facilitate a sense of purpose by expecting outcomes that are delivered with pride and dignity in one’s work. May it be a simple journal entry or statement of critique, I encourage students to see their products as an extension of themselves, their reputation and their craft. In turn, students leave my classroom with confidence in their abilities.
I engage students in discourse so that they will be well equipped to take on a chaotic, cacophonous world full of subliminal messages and biased media campaigns. I scaffold the viewing experience by incorporating art history, familiarizing them with a vocabulary of symbols and intentions from various traditions. Together, we analyze how the context of historical events, culture and language impact approaches to art making across generation. In other words, my intention is to shape students into active critics rather than passive bystanders of their own visual culture.
I encourage a self-reflective approach to creating. While I realize that not all students will leave an art program wishing to pursue an artistic career, it is still of the utmost importance that they take with them a self-awareness that will guide them in the face of contemporary challenges and inevitable influences. As the world becomes more demanding yet distracting, my goal is to empower students with an appreciation of their own thoughts and voice. When I see my students openly acknowledging and thus validating their identity, I know that they will be empowered to take on future professional and personal challenges with verve and a genuine drive to solve problems.
© Maya Koenig 2013. All Rights Reserved.