Good teaching / bad teaching - WarmGlass.com

Good teaching / bad teaching

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Lani McGregor
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Good teaching / bad teaching

Postby Lani McGregor » Sat Mar 15, 2003 11:36 am

A number of people have emailed me off the board about our upcoming conference for teachers. Many had some really interesting ideas about what is needed in the way of teaching within our community. Many also relayed both good and bad experiences. I found the stories truly enlightening and wished some had been posted on this board for the benefit of the whole group.

Would any of you be willing to share examples of good and bad teaching in kiln glass? No teachers' names needed of course. Unless you're giving a good review.....

Takers?...

Brock
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Postby Brock » Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:45 pm

Patrick Reyntiens. Far and away, the most inspirational teacher I have ever met. His excellence in teaching lies in his ability to assess each student and give them information in the manner in which they would best receive it. He gave lots of lectures, he's a brilliant ad lib speaker, and told many stories, and, while seemingly just anecdotes, there was always a lesson, or moral, or kernel of information within therse jaunty mots. Closely followed by Kathy Bunnel. Hmmm . . they're both stained glass artists. Brock
My memory is so good, I can't remember the last time I forgot something . . .

Dani
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Postby Dani » Sat Mar 15, 2003 3:07 pm

I have half-completed a book entitled The Good (arts and crafts) Teacher. This project grew out of my disillusionment with the arts and crafts program at the community college where I taught locally (the university program was even worse). Yikes. Primary focus of the book includes 1. A working knowledge of history in your subject 2. Business acumen (including the teaching of basic good manners) 3. Functional ability in your medium (which includes enough knowledge to de-bunk the myths) and 4. Honed teaching skills which often are unrelated to the above.... can you organize a course, gift a lecture, kindly correct a student, and inspire anyone who needs it? And finally, are you able to prevent yourself from withholding valuable information? You would not believe the number of people out there hanging there teaching shingle with the primary goal of thwarting the competition! Lani, you are providing a great service here. And, if I may be so bold, I would suggest to all teachers the importance of helping train the next generation of good teachers in your methods.

My 2c,

Dani
(For those of you interested in the book, I don't know when it will be completed.... I'm working on six at the moment and one is entitled, "Scatterbrain" for all those folks like me who work on scores of things at once! Trust me, everything gets completed... just no instant gratification for any of us!)

Amy Schleif-Mohr
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Postby Amy Schleif-Mohr » Sat Mar 15, 2003 3:20 pm

I can't really comment on good or bad teachers that I've had. I certainly have had a range.
As a student looking to take some classes or workshops I usually go through a screening of who I might want to learn from. First, I look at their work, this is really important for me. If I think their work speaks to me then I continue further research. I personally like it when a teacher makes me think about what I'm doing. Kind of nudge me toward a "solution" instead of taking me step by step. I suppose this all depends on where the student is in their education.
I usually like to talk with a previous student to find out what kind of teacher they are. Then I make my decision.

Amy

Paul Tarlow
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teachers

Postby Paul Tarlow » Sat Mar 15, 2003 6:21 pm

The best teachers are the one's who share freely, having the confidence in their own skills and talent that they don't let a 'fear of competition' prevent them from..ummm...teaching.

I didn't realize just how tough this can be until recently when I taught a three day, 12 hours powder and frit class. Many of the techniques I taugh are ones I have developed myself and, to my knowledge, aren't being taught elsewhere. It was very difficult to let that information go. Class feedback has confirmed for me that I did the right thing.

I put Bob "Cheers" Leatherbarrow high on the list of teachers who are incredibly generous with their knowledge.

- Paul

tina
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Postby tina » Sat Mar 15, 2003 7:00 pm

One thing to look out for is a conflict of expectations between advertising and the actual teacher. In my case, I've taken several classes at the Worcester Center for Crafts in central Massachusetts and their advertising in order to sell the classes often is in conflict with what the actual teacher/artist is able or willing to do. Frequently this problem is aggravated by the center using terms like "beginner" or "advanced" (or, god forbid, the ever popular "all levels") and then assuring prospective students that they are in whatever category will sell them on the class.

If at all possible, try and contact the teacher directly and find out what they intend to do and how flexible they feel they can be. If they haven't taught at the venue before, they may not be prepared for what they are about to walk into. It helps if everyone's on the same page.

T.

Barbara Muth
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Postby Barbara Muth » Sat Mar 15, 2003 10:28 pm

A student's learning experience is also greatly influenced by the host, the center where the teacher is teaching. I am fortunate to live close to Vitrum Studios where we have some wonderful people coming to teach in a spacious studio with friendly, generous hosts. I have also experienced the opposite, being cramped in a space too small for the students and teachers with insufficient kiln space, under-functioning equipment, and a stingy host when it came to supplying students with glass.

I think a good teacher screens the studio well, and when it doesn't live up to its promises, moves on to other teaching studio spaces.

The other thing that makes a teaching experience better for students is a class with students with comparable skill levels. Nothing more frustrating than killing time waiting for people to catch up, or rushing like crazy to keep up with the rest of the class.

So a lot of these are host issues, not teacher issues. So sue me!

Haven't had a bad glass teacher experience. But I once had a horrendous art clay class with a teacher who ignored most students in favor of chatting about her daughters lives with one of the students and then talking trash about kilns sold by other teachers (and implying irresponsibility on the part of the other teacher). She scared me so much that when I brought my marshmallow kiln home, I waited three months before firing it up for the first time.

And then finally, to follow up on a funny story that a few of us chuckled over last week about unruly students -- When a student is disrupting a class, it needs to be brought to their attention and stopped. Yes they paid for the class, but so did every other student in the room. Because they paid, does that mean that they have the right to invade the space of other students who also paid, make it impossible to hear the instructors, etc, etc?

Classroom etiquette...

where is Miss Manners?

and I confess, I interrupt and ask too many questions. I'll try to be a better mannered student!

Barbara
Barbara
Check out the glass manufacturer's recommended firing schedules...
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Paul Tarlow
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Postby Paul Tarlow » Sat Mar 15, 2003 10:46 pm

Barbara Muth wrote:...and I confess, I interrupt and ask too many questions...


I don't believe that's possible. If a teacher ever tells you that you ask to many questions -- so long as the questions are on topic (which means the number of questions is not the issue) -- then I would demand my money back.

It is a gift to be given the opportunity to teach others (regardless the topic). And there is no better way for a student to honor the teacher than by showing interest in the material -- and no better way to show interest than through inquisitiveness and a desire to learn.

<stepping off my soap box...>

- Paul

Don Burt
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Postby Don Burt » Sat Mar 15, 2003 11:39 pm

Two things that I appreciate in a teacher/course:

Teaching to all levels as much as possible. Not dumbing-down content nor forgeting the less skilled.

Keeping the action going. Not having people stand in line or having a whole class watch while one person executes a skill. A little of that is probably valuable, but it can be a waste of precious time. (A lesson learned from youth sports coaching - don't let the little devils have a moment rest)

in times of old students would copy works of the maestro. I think more of that would be good 2 C.
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Bert Weiss
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Postby Bert Weiss » Sun Mar 16, 2003 3:57 am

2 remarkable teachers I have encountered are Albinus Elskus and Paul Marioni. They were inspiring in completely different ways.

Albin was very clear in his descriptions of technique. When I read his book, I can totally imagine him presenting the info in it. The techniques that I learned from him were starting points for developing my own approach to painting on glass.

Paul's inspiration had nothing to do with technique. What he communicated was possibility. When I first worked with him as a monitor at Haystack, he talked about working at the Bullseye factory which was an unimaginably cool experience. He came up with a technique to apply an image on a sheet as it was being made and then manipulate the image so that each one was unique. While his Haystack class was for flat glass, he was working with cast glass and blowing at home, so I got turned on to pursuing the marriage of glass and heat. A few years later, I did a Pilchuck session with Paul and several other teachers which was about furnace and kiln casting. That session was a broadening of my understanding of glass and ways in which it behaves while being worked.

Brock - Kathy Bunnel was supposed to be a teacher at that session, but she switched to being a student. We all had way too much fun.

A good class is a kick in the ass to reach way beyond wherever it is that you are at before the class.

A bad student is one who learns a technique and goes home and does exactly what they were told to do.

Bert

Brian and Jenny Blanthorn
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Re: Good teaching / bad teaching

Postby Brian and Jenny Blanthorn » Sun Mar 16, 2003 7:16 am

Lani McGregor wrote:A number of people have emailed me off the board about our upcoming conference for teachers. Many had some really interesting ideas about what is needed in the way of teaching within our community. Many also relayed both good and bad experiences. I found the stories truly enlightening and wished some had been posted on this board for the benefit of the whole group.

Would any of you be willing to share examples of good and bad teaching in kiln glass? No teachers' names needed of course. Unless you're giving a good review.....

Takers?...


I would say the board with all the skills n knowlege n therapy here is the best teacher

I have learnt more with the boards over the past few years than I have with 8 or so years in 'education'

I have been able 2 solve serious problems that have bugged me 4 years

Also it has tuned my brain in2 develping new tm technology

n Lani U have been a good part of this

I also got a new friend

Spab
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rosanna gusler
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Postby rosanna gusler » Sun Mar 16, 2003 9:44 am

db said:
in times of old students would copy works of the maestro. I think more of that would be good 2 C.................i agree db. that removes the pressure to create (in public no less) and allows one the freedom to concentrate on learning a technique. on the topic of rude people, i agree with barbara, a discreet 'talking to' and if necessary a partial refund sometimes is necessary for the greater good. i was in a pottery class once where i would have gladly chipped in to make up the refund to be rid of a particular person. i ended up fussing them out myself. it did not solve the problem completely but at least he stopped talking to me. i think that it is perfectly allright to shush disruptive folks . rosanna

rosanna gusler
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Postby rosanna gusler » Sun Mar 16, 2003 9:59 am

and while i am on my soapbox, i think that the people in the class should be at least somewhat personally responsible for helping to keep order(for lack of a better term). like anne landers said, someone cannot take advantage of you without your permission. so say hush or put that back. peer pressure can be a good thing and then the instructor would have some back up. ok i'm done now. rosanna

Leslie Ihde

what makes a class dissappointing

Postby Leslie Ihde » Sun Mar 16, 2003 10:44 am

I guess what I don't like are the "make and take" type classes. I don't actually like spending the bulk of a class practicing technique. I have my own studio and I can practice there. I would prefer to spend my time learning technique and science. I like technical information, the nature of glass, what happens with different materials in different enviornments etc.

I took a painting class some months ago, and although I don't regret the class, it seemed that 2/3 of the class was people working on painting their pieces. While it is valuable to get a feel of the brushes and muller etc, I really would have liked much more info on the technical and even history and development of glass painting, and slides of different effects. I also got the sense that the teacher was there to make some extra money, and not particularily happy about teaching. I don't want to be too hard on her, she is certainly an accomplished painter, but teaching may not have been her favorite thing. But maybe it was just that particular week-end.

Ideally a teacher desires to teach and wants to share knowledge. If the teacher just wants to get in and out and make some dough to supplement his income, that is apparent. Some people take classes because it is entertaining, but I think classes should specify if it is going to be useful to the professional artist. I never took art in school, so all my info is self-taught or from workshops. One of the best classes I ever took was with Peter King in architectural ceramics, and the Hot Glass Horizon classes for fine for an intro to glass. Phil Teefy was especially informative. Leslie

rosanna gusler
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Postby rosanna gusler » Sun Mar 16, 2003 10:52 am

peter king OOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo i am so envious! i need to save up for a class by him. i can see some really cool mantles and such combining glass and clay. if we do not have a wgconference on the rightr coast i will go do just that. enviousgirl

Marty
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teaching

Postby Marty » Sun Mar 16, 2003 11:11 am

I nominate Rob Levin, glassblower in NC near Penland, for best teacher. Inspiring, technically expert, gave challenging assignments, nurturing, and available.

I'm a novice at teaching and am sort of winging it (apologies to those who have taken my class- but I did say I was a virgin!!!!!). I try not to have students make masterpieces or stuff to take home, but rather to learn techniques, lots of them, that will keep them busy for a long time, and open possibilities for them.

I also agonized over sharing my current work and techniques, and for a while thought I could get away with only teaching the stuff I'd done in the past. I realized that students wanted to learn what I was doing now, and, perhaps more important, that I didn't really want to revisit the past- been there/done that. I do try to get students to "copy" my work once, it seems to be a good teaching tool. Some will move immediately in another direction while they're setting up that "copy", others won't until later. I keep stressing that they can dither over the "masterpieces" when they get home (Beth may still have the whip lashes from last September).

I've also realized that I don't want to teach too often. Part of it is hearing myself talk too much but the major part is too much time out of the studio.

The host studio does make a huge difference- both Vitrum and Kittrell/Riffkind are extremely supportive.

Phil Hoppes
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Art vs Engineering Classes

Postby Phil Hoppes » Sun Mar 16, 2003 12:14 pm

While I've taken more engineering classes than I care to think about I've only taken a few art classes so my experience on that (art) particular subject is somewhat limited, here are my observations:

Art, unlike most other endeavers, is very hand's on. One of the most frustrating things in the art classes I've had to date is the instructor (drawing class) virtually gave no instruction with respect to technique. The assignments were actually quite good but when it came to actually doing the work there was no instruction at all. While she talked about being critical of work, her method of criticism on the students work was very lacking. I'm a beginning student. I know I'm not doing everything right and that there are techniques and methods I can use to improve what I'm doing. Telling me "That looks great" and then walking on tells me nothing. I understand that for an instructor, it is a fine line between critique of a work and possible demotivation of the student but as a student, ESPECIALLY in the arts, you had better develop some thick skin and recognize that to grow you need critical input. If not, you will be the proverbial Emperor with no clothes....you will continue to think your work is great and if fact it is not, but you are not getting the critical feedback to tell you how to grow and how to improve your work.

Just my 2 cents,

Phil

Lani McGregor
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Postby Lani McGregor » Sun Mar 16, 2003 2:14 pm

A big Thank You to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It has been immensely informative to me as we pull together BECon. If I can sum up a bit of what I got back from you all:

Amy, Bert, Leslie,….Good teachers give tools and inspiration; they teach problem solving rather than tricks. Amen.

Phil… giving and getting true criticism not just “attaboysâ€

Dani
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Postby Dani » Sun Mar 16, 2003 3:46 pm

Brian, I agree with you that these boards are invaluable and am astounded that many teachers don't include info about them in their syllabi. In fact, in the college classes, I build in assignments around internet research including searching for information in BB archives to answer certain questions. I've sometimes wondered if teachers avoid the boards because they challenge their own knowledge and authority in the classroom.

My 2,

Dani

Dani
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Postby Dani » Sun Mar 16, 2003 3:58 pm

And, Lani, don't forget to check the old archives for previous and quite lengthy discussions about "good teachers". Tons of good feedback there, too.

Cheers,

Dani


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