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Good teaching / bad teaching

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K Okahashi
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Postby K Okahashi » Sun Mar 16, 2003 7:18 pm

It is really nice to read the thoughts and comments on this thread. Thank you all!

I break out teaching in different ways: 1. Knowledge of technical abilities and options 2. Ability to communicate the techniques in a way that motivates and inspires. 3. Basic (or depending on the class- advanced) knowledge of the history and what has been done before and what works best at that time. 4. Well organized in presentation of the materials, techniques. 5. Ability to anticipate student's needs- e.g. appropriate lighting/classroom environment, appropriate breaks, tools, equipment, etc. 6 Knowledge of the hazards of the medium and safety issues and articulating this to students.

One thing that I find is often overlooked is that if you possess the technical knowledge, you can teach. This is not so. I knew someone who had much technical knowledge but was a terrible presenter. Of course, his ego could have gotten in the way but I’d like to give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Another thing to consider is that people learn in different ways- some like the technical and background info, others want the hands on, some like lectures only, still others like to refer to notes, etc. As one learns, they will gravitate to the instructors that have similar styles of learning.

As for teachers, I highly recommend Peter McGrain (knowledge of history, great presenter, knowledge of medium, entertaining, well organized), Phil Teefy- strong technical expertise, casual style of teaching –encouraged lots of questions and knowledgeable. I also taken different classes from others but these two really stood out for me.

Just my two cents....

Tim Lewis
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Postby Tim Lewis » Mon Mar 17, 2003 10:19 am

Leslie said: "I guess what I don't like are the "make and take" type classes."

I am teaching a 5 day class for beginners in an Art Camp situation. The students have a reputation for being "dablers." That is, they try one class in something then comeback for another class in something else. These folks want to go home with something to show for their week rather than with a shopping list for fusing supplies.

In this situation I will be helping them produce some things to take home and to try to teach some techniques, history, and design methods in the process. (Maybe make them buyers of kiln-work!) This is not my usual way of teaching but the situation demands it. When I have tried to do the technique-oriented method the class fails when the students are not creative enough to know where to start.
Tim

Dale Grundon
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Postby Dale Grundon » Mon Mar 17, 2003 10:48 am

Tim....
I teach summer classes as one of the educational activities of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua. Your experience with students is about identical to mine. Thye need to have some "show and tell" when they return home.

I attempt to provide as much information asis possible within the time frame as well as keep it short of the learning overload level.

During the 6 years I have been doing these classes htere are about 30% of the students who continue working with glass. That may be as much reward I can obtain for having spent the time every summer. Those that do not continue often comment later to me that they have a far greater understanding and appreciation of the skill that is required for this art. That is good as it produces informed buyers.

Lani McGregor
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Postby Lani McGregor » Mon Mar 17, 2003 10:55 am

Re the “make and takeâ€

Tony Smith
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Postby Tony Smith » Mon Mar 17, 2003 11:39 am

Lani,

Thank you for starting this thread. I think it's producing some valuable insight for those of us who aspire to be successful teachers.

One thing that I have heard from many students is that they don't want to pay a lot of money for a class that is just a lecture and/or demonstration. They want to have hands-on experience and most want to have something to take with them either as a reminder of how to do the technique, or as something to show off as a product of their classroom effort.

As Phil suggested, the critique of a student's technique is very valuable and helps eliminate misunderstandings from the lecture alone. This can only be accomplished in a hands-on environment.

While it's important in a short class to have well structured projects so that the students can complete their projects within the allotted time period, it's also important to emphasize that there is more than one way of doing things. Alternative methods should always be part of the lecture, and if time allows, the demonstration. I can't tell you how many times a student has expressed surprise by my "breaking the rules" when demonstrating alternate methods. This can only be done by teachers who have experimented on their own to refine techniques, not by teachers who have picked up new techniques three weeks prior to teaching them with the sole purpose of having something new to teach.

With that said, students should be encouraged to experiment with techniques and question common wisdom if they believe there might be other ways of achieving some desired effect. By pushing the envelope, we'll all benefit with new techniques and methods.

Tony
The tightrope between being strange and being creative is too narrow to walk without occasionally landing on both sides..." Scott Berkun

Beth
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Postby Beth » Mon Mar 17, 2003 12:19 pm

Lani, great thread.

Added to the host's and teacher's "deliver what you promise" is "deliver what is implied." Barbara Muth said it - enough classroom control to deal with the hopefully rare disruptive or monopolizing student.

While being extremely patient with The Disruptor is saintly, it can sacrifice other students. While they may not say anything, empathizing with the teacher and host, my strong impression is that it is much appreciated when the situation is addressed (often in private!).

For the Monopolizer, sometimes just a "hold that thought" or "good point, let's talk about that during a break" is sufficient, but unfortunately, sometimes more is needed.

When I was a corporate HR trainer, we practiced "disruptive control techniques." (There is no one more disruptive than an HR person playing a role of a disruptive student." There are articles and I still have a handy chart with how to handle situations. (I'll try to dig it up if a teacher wants a copy.)

It's an unfortunate element of classroom control but it's better for an instructor to know up front it could happen and be mentally prepared, than to be blindsided.

Note to Famous Marty: your whip must have been of the gentle variety, because I don't remember any lashings, other than calling to Lisa Skubal and me, "Saw faster! You have to saw faster!" Your class was not just fascinating, but it painlessly gave us new techniques and tools (yum), and the class became a cohesive group - some ongoing friendships evolved from it. Not an accident.

Beth

Bert Weiss
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Postby Bert Weiss » Mon Mar 17, 2003 12:51 pm

At my Pilchuck session A decade ago I think, I did one kiln casting project. After my mold was made we had trouble fitting evrything in the kiln so I sawed some corners off of the mold. Needless to say, I got a puddle of glass out of the kiln. This experience sucked.

When I returned home, I was teaching an adult ed class in fusing /slumping at the Maine College of Art. I threw out to my class the idea that we could try a kiln casting project. I explained my experience and gave the class the option to decide to try an adventure. They were excited about trying it and we had a very successful experience. We all made some great castings. After that class, the school turned my classroom in to a closet and stopped offering the class. (They had promised ceramic majors personal storage space and the room I used was it.)

In those scenarios the experienced kiln caster gave a lousy class and the naive newbie did a good one. You never know :wink:

That said I think Lani's approach to guiding a successful experience is a good approach. Glass can be made to be fairly simple or endlessly complicated.

One of my pet peeves has been encountering people who have graduated a college glass program and trying to ask them techie questions. They almost never have a clue. The college programs teach them how to put Kugler on a bubble of glass and blow it out. This is fine for them as they can leave school and make a living if they are rich enough and good enough.

I have gotten my glass tech foundations from people like Boyce L. Henry H. Dan S. and Ray A. I wish that there were more people out there teaching about the fundamental properties of our medium, not just how to make stuff. Once you understand how glass works, you can innovate technique and apply design.

Bert

Zane
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Postby Zane » Mon Mar 17, 2003 12:56 pm

Leslie said: "I guess what I don't like are the "make and take" type classes."

I am teaching a 5 day class for beginners in an Art Camp situation. The students have a reputation for being "dablers." That is, they try one class in something then comeback for another class in something else. These folks want to go home with something to show for their week rather than with a shopping list for fusing supplies.

In this situation I will be helping them produce some things to take home and to try to teach some techniques, history, and design methods in the process. (Maybe make them buyers of kiln-work!) This is not my usual way of teaching but the situation demands it. When I have tried to do the technique-oriented method the class fails when the students are not creative enough to know where to start.



I beg to differ with the negative views expressed here about “make and take” classes. I find those classes very valuable especially when the making is accompanied by an explanation of technique, introduction of alternate techniques, history of the techniques, chemistry involved, etc.

For many people learning is doing. Indeed, as has been mentioned elsewhere, copying a master teaches much about the material, about the technique, as well as about one’s own shortcomings……… which is why one took the class in the first place.

For those people who do not go on to bigger and better things (fusing glass on their own) the item serves as a memento of an interesting class.

For me, handling the item, made in class, over and over again (like the maglesses of the now famous Magless exchange) immediately brings up memories of how it was made, what went wrong, what went right, what I would change next time etc. I even “hear” a replay of the teacher’s explanations given during the time I was forming the item. It functions like notes written in glass.

I also dislike the idea of being called not creative enough. I would suggest that “not knowing enough” or “not having the right materials or tools” as more of a handicap to rushing home to do something immensely creative immediately after being told how to manipulate glass (or clay or wood or pewter).

I think a teacher is obligated to explain, to demonstrate, to clarify etc. until the student (with a gleam in his/her eye) begins to say (usually under his/her breath):

Yes, I see how that works
and
Yes, I can do this too
and
Yes, but I want to try it this way………

That , to me, is the Eureka moment when the teacher shuts up and lets the student do his thing.

Sorry for being so wordy. Teaching (good and bad) and the difference therein is a subject very close to my heart.

There are many who can do but cannot teach,
and some that cannot do and cannot teach,
It is really wonderful to find someone who can do and can teach!!!

Happy fusing.

Zane

Brock
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Postby Brock » Mon Mar 17, 2003 1:12 pm

D'accord Bert, technique may be cheap, but it's absolutely essential. I won't go into my controller rant, but understanding your kiln, and the effects of heat on glass, are going to be far more useful in the long run, than the ability to plug numbers into a computer.

And, on troublesome students, Avery and I have taught well over 300 students since May, 2001. We have fond memories of the great majority of them, indeed, many of them, (and the studio owners who staged these workshops) have become close friends.

Students come with all sorts of skill levels, and levels of commitment to the course. All you can really do is lay the information out there. If they are paying attention, and want to learn, they will learn. You can rant and rave, play loud music, ask trivia questions, anything to keep interest and enthusiasm up, but you CANNOT motivate a student who doesn't care. It may be possible in a one on one situation, but not in a class, at the expense of other students. We start when we say we're going to start. If you're not there, you'll miss something. It's that simple

Out of these hundreds, we have had 4 who stand out as particularly troublesome. We, (I anyway) have become far less lenient about this behaviour. Needy students are one thing, that's part of the job, but if a student continually, through their selfish behaviour, disrupts the whole class, it will be addressed. The first step will be a private conversation, after that, repeated offenses will be grounds for removal from the class.

This has never happened, but we have got as far as discussions with the studio owner about the possibility. I hope it never does happen. Brock
My memory is so good, I can't remember the last time I forgot something . . .

Patricia O'Neill
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Postby Patricia O'Neill » Mon Mar 17, 2003 1:14 pm

Lani,

For me, the best workshop I attended was with Roger Thomas. This is why:

1) the class was not over crowded (I attended workshops with 15, 19 people and that was way too much....)

2) each half day was articulated with a presentation, a hands on, a slide show.

3) during the presentation, each student had the opportunity to ask as many questions he/she wants, and also to enjoy the answer to questions asked by others.

4) once the presentation was done and all the questions treated, we practiced what we just learned. No waste of time on doing art work, just practice and experience. We used a lot of squares of clear glass that was ready and cut. The time was spent on practicing the subject of the class, not cut squares or circles.
Each student had rods with different colors to identify his samples. So that, we all left with our own work.
Free time was available to give more practice to the techniques and/or tools that especially interested us. Some prefered the saw, some the vitrigraph, some wanted to try a particuliar technique seen in a photo...

5) the slide shows were extensive. Just with Roger's work or other artists using the same type of Technique. Each photo was commented and related to what we were learning, and questions answered.

6) Roger did not just teached techniques but did inspire us, show us how to think out of the box, guided us. He was ready to talk about anything, very openly.
Something I did really appreciate: at a certain time, I made a comment that he thought was wrong. Later, when we were all working on our glass samples, he came next to me and told me "I think that what you said was wrong and I would like that we talk about it, so that you will not get yourself into trouble one day". That was, for me, the top of a sharing, intelligent and elegant attitude from a teacher.

7) there was so much to practice that we had no time to do all. I did what was interesting me the most, but I left with a thick printed material where all the techniques were described to allow me to make other samples later.

8) (why does it change my 8 for an incon????) if I scratch my head to find what I did not like about this workshop, I do not find anything. That's the best compliment I can make.

And the "my worse workshop" award (and I will not giver names here), goes to Hot Glass Horizons: from over crowded classes, rude students, louzy organization, unfriendly staff, bad defined goals, boring workshops, all was here.

Hope my input will help.

Patricia

PS: and I don't find the spell checking and the bad english checking.... sorry....

Leslie Ihde

make and take/sharing your best techniques

Postby Leslie Ihde » Mon Mar 17, 2003 2:27 pm

I just want to clarify my criticism of "make and take". There is alarge audience for those classes, just not me. I certainly don't dissapprove of them. I just feel that as a person with my own studio and plenty of time to pratice, that the bulk of the class should not be JUST practicing. As I said, 2/3rd of the time in the painting class I took a few months ago was just painting without more than brief instruction, and a teacher who seemed worried about the use of materials.

Also, reagarding Marty's comments and others about being reluctant to share their hard earned techniques. I don't think you hesitantcy is anything to be ashamed of. You worked very hard to develop those techniques, they are your livelihood and there are people who copy and would be quite happy to take your know how. As far as I'm concerned, any teacher who shares techniques he/she has spent years to master is incredibly generous, maybe too generous.

Glass art seems to be spreading dramatically. When I think of the history of art, and of secrecy associated with art technique, I am amazed at the ammount of information available virtually for free now a days. I'm thinking of some of the ancient celadon glazes we still can't reproduce which were family secrets for generations and sustained the family financial viability. There is nothing wrong with that. If there's something you don't want to share, don't. Don't ever give more than you're comfortable giving.

Leslie

Gil Reynolds
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Postby Gil Reynolds » Mon Mar 17, 2003 2:30 pm

Good subject Lani.
I have been blessed with some truly incredible teachers. Each was able to give me what I needed at that time in my life.
Ludwig Shaffrath taught me - when designing architecturally, understand the rhythms of the space.
Paul Marioni taught me - don’t hold back - share all that you know.
Boyce Lunstrum taught me – if you don’t want to have to get a day job, learn how to make a living from your glass.
My students continually teach me - never forget that glass is magical wondrous material and that I am extremely fortunate to be able to play with it every day.
Glass itself has taught me – to listen.
But, my most influential teacher was my college art teacher, Larry Stobie. He taught me - believe in yourself and your art regardless of what the others may say.
Thanks to all.
Gil

Brock
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Postby Brock » Mon Mar 17, 2003 3:00 pm

I once took a class at Pilchuck, taught by an eminent caster/sculptor. It was the worst class, by far, of many that I have taken. This "teacher" would not share techniques with us, would not give us the supplier of the crystal that he used, although he constantly referred to it, and disappeared about noon every day. To make things even worse, he was usually drunk by ten in the morning. He would saunter down the hill about 9, smoking a cigar, and carrying a pitcher of margaritas. I will give him fashion points though, it wqas a different colour/flavour of margaritas every day.

The whole class rebelled, and went to the school administration. They "solved" the problem by having another teacher sit in on the class, and he slowly took over, and taught the class himself.

At the end of session critique, the entire hierarchy of the school appeared, Director, Artistisic Director, everyone, plus Anne Gould Hauberg, and Dale Chihuly. This had the desired effect, and everyone was too intimidated to make much of a fuss in front of the assembled brass. This "teacher" has never been back to Pilchuck. Brock
My memory is so good, I can't remember the last time I forgot something . . .

Paul Tarlow
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Postby Paul Tarlow » Mon Mar 17, 2003 3:37 pm

Okay, I've re-read this thread a bunch of times -- and I know this isn't really what Lani is looking for -- but it occurs to me that the best teachers I've had have been:

1) Brad's book

2) This board and the associated archives

I couldn't have progressed as far as I have without the two.

Brad's book is well organized, knows its audience and speaks to it appropriately and clearly.

This board is a huge wealth of knowledge and shares with everyone equally.

- Paul

Lani McGregor
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Postby Lani McGregor » Tue Mar 18, 2003 11:05 am

Wow, Patricia, that’s one glowing review!

I know that Vitrum sold out Roger’s classes pretty quickly so I’m guessing that your experience has been typical and word has gotten around.

About a dozen years ago while Roger was working here at Bullseye he showed me a teaching method that tremendously impressed me and that we’ve incorporated with some variations in our own programs: making palette tiles.

He’d recreate a particular technique (whether working with micas or metal foils or screens. etc) in a 4 inch square tile with a short description of the method, materials, firing schedule etc. taped to the back. He then made up a sort of “libraryâ€

Tim Lewis
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Make & Take and Not Creative

Postby Tim Lewis » Tue Mar 18, 2003 11:08 am

Lani said: "JUST leaving a class with a shiny bauble is no way to teach (IMHO)."

I cannot teach classes without including good technical and historical background so taking something home for Show & Tell is not the only thing they get. My objective is to give students a deeper understanding of the beautiful objects they see and show them that making them is within reach if they want to try.

My comparison was between classes for more expericed fusers where I teach a smorgasboard of techniques (like a needlwork sampler) and a beginner's finished-piece type of class. With more advanced students they take home examples of things they learned but they need to apply the knowledge at home if they want a finished piece.

When I say that some people are less creative I mean that some people, for whatever reason, are not able to produce something that isn't from a pattern. They usually lack the confidence to take creative chances but it is not in the scope of my classes (especially weekends) to teach how to think up new stuff. I have methods of helping those students meet the objectives of the class but would always prefer self-motivated, creative, terribly interesting, and beautiful people. :D
Tim

Lani McGregor
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Postby Lani McGregor » Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:27 pm

"...always prefer self-motivated, creative, terribly interesting, and beautiful people." - Tim

... who are never disruptive. - Lani :wink:

Patricia O'Neill
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Postby Patricia O'Neill » Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:47 pm

To answer Lani's questions about Roger's class:

Yes, Lani. During the workshop I attended, Roger used this "palette tiles" method.
Each set of tiles is made around a particuliar technique or material.
The class was dedicated to learn those techniques and materials. We did many sample tiles. When I came home, I labelled each tiles in the back to remember how it was made. When I run my kiln, I always have a spot left on the shelf to drop a new sample. Day after day, I build my own library of samples for later use.
I took the good habit to do it with everything that I learn, from Roger, from other instructors that I'ver met since, from what I read in books, from what I read on this board, and from all the crazy ideas crawling in my head.

Before the class, I communicated with Roger. He told me "my workshop is not to do art, it is a glass boot camp". And that's right. Except that he never yells ;)

The way the workshop was built was, on my point of view, excellent.
We had presentation time, where Roger showed us a set of tiles around a theme (like gold leaf, micas....) and explained how to make them.
A hands-on time (or boot camp part) where we made as many tiles as we want (as there is not enough hours in a day to do all, you pick what attracts you the most and keep the rest for later, since you leave with a written documentation).
And an extensive slide show to get inspired about how to put together what we just learned.
Then, do it again with another family of materials.
A big plus: the class was not too crowded. That allowed Roger to spend some personal time with each one of us.

A while ago, I've heard someone saying that if you state that a person is insane (for example), it does not make sense. But if you say, I am a medical doctor specialist into mental illness and I believe this person is insane, that is credible.
In my other life, I was (until I moved in the US) an IT instructor. I have certifications not only in IT, but in pedagogy and psychology. I gave classes to adults for many years. I presume that gives me the credit to appreciate/or not a class.

Maybe the type of teaching used by Roger would not be adapted to everyone. But, on my point of view, it was great. With this type of organization, you don't have to compete to get the instructor's attention, you don't have to compete with the other students to get your work done.
The only competition I am interested in, when I sign up for a class, is the competition with myself to make the most of the teaching, in relation with my personal goals.
Add a teaching balanced between technique and inspiration, and you have my winning formula.

Patricia

PS: a zest of kindness and a pinch of fun is always welcome in the formula ;)


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