GENERAL: How We Teach?

From: IN%"[email protected]" "Art Criticism Discussion Forum" 5-JUL-1993
14:01:37.18
To: IN%"[email protected]" "Howard Lawrence"
CC:
Subj: teaching creativity

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Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1993 12:53:00 CDT
From: [email protected]
Subject: teaching creativity
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To: Howard Lawrence <[email protected]>
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I have not read the postings from the 4th, but I have had some thoughts that
might bring a couple of threads together. Many years ago I was teaching in a
large foundations program. In our weekly meetings we frequently agonized over
the fact that while the work from the classes seemed strong and was responding
in the predicted fashion to the projects that had been designed for the student
s, there was a very troublesome loss of some quality that we called variously,
"freshness," "originality," "vitality," etc.. After many years I have come
to the conclusion that we had been part of process of stamping out the innate
originality in the students. They did the projects very well....too well, in-
deed.
Now I do feel strongly that we are an inherently creative creature...it is very
difficult to suppress this instinct. On the other hand, we are also very
much driven to a social existence. (Is this why we have two cranial hemispheres
...no, we are this way, maybe BECAUSE we have two.....). When we presented
those foundation courses, we were moving their "education" (read ability to
conform) to a small island that had hitherto been left pretty much alone. We
were clear cutting some very remarkable alien landscapes so that we could plant
the seeds of our vision of what was good, right, proper, creative, etc...
It now seems to me that we must cultivate both aspects of the students...their
need to belong (read: rules, techiques, pre-determined concepts, etc.) and thei
r need to be who they are (read: unique, individual originality.) Further, I
think that the more fragile part is the urge to creativity...this cannot be
institutionalized, predicted, or sometimes even touched. Therefore, it may
require greater effort on our part. Yet, YET, ours is an age deeply in need of
a sense of control. We must also teach that in some fashion without violating
or damaging the delicate and vital creative instinct.
The real issue is not who teaches or whether the teacher is a good artist (they
so often are) but the real issue is how we teach.
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