I"ve discovered that something I really like to do is research for upcoming classes. I just don't know how some teachers teach the same thing for years and years. When I taught at a university having three sections of the same class nearly did me in!!! Everybody else said "oh thank goodness, less prep" and I was thinking "how on earth will I get through the boredom of repeating the same material over and over?"!!!
Of course performing artists (I suppose in some way a teacher is a performing artist come to think of it!!), do find a way to give each performance a little different flavor and meaning, but I bet even some of them were composing their grocery lists while they played a sublime Chopin nocturne!!!
Anyway this last week I've been working on three new Power Point Presentations - how I love being able to be So Visual in the classroom - for my upcoming Master Class on Cape Cod.
In my Abstract Art for Quiltmakers online class (which starts again this Friday by the way - do check out the website academyofquilting.com, we examine the work and the processes used by female abstract artists of the 20th and 21st century. From that study I was able to come up with a LOT of different ways one could design a quilt...and it's so much fun trying them out. This is a great class and very popular, by the way.
So for my Cape Cod Master Class (June 8-12) (if interested contact Linda Gallagher at email@example.com - Linda has organized a great venue, 5 day class with lunch provided, and she has all the info re accommodation, travel etc), having "dealt with" the almost unknown female abstract artists, I thought it would be really interesting to see what the men had done and what we could learn from them. There are some amazing inspirations out there! So that was a wonderful lecture to put together and I plan to show you how to analyze and derive ideas from their work.
But did I stop there? NO!!! I was having some much fun, I've also put together two other assignments, one about the hidden order, the structure beneath a design which is a) vital and b) completely ignored (as far as I can see) by most people, teachers included. The third thing we'll do that week is look at the best ways of working from a photograph - using all the knowledge we've gained during the week.
I'm hoping by the end of the week on Cape Cod and by the end of the 6 week online class , students will have a huge amount of knowledge, a great many quilt designs, and at least 3 quilt tops cut and pinned ready to finish. Actually for the online class, they should have 5 quilt tops!
One of the most vital things for making progress in any endeavor, is helpful, supportive, honest and clear-sighted critiquing. A lot of teachers I've noticed find it easy to get away with "oh that's lovely dear, now onto the next thing". Well that sort of teaching approach has never helped me - I always want to know what's right and what's wrong, how can I improve, what solutions could I consider in improving the work. As my piano, square and French teachers are discovering!!
Obviously you don't want to be destroyed!!! Everyone needs encouragement to continue trying, but you also need some pointers, some direction. How can you fix a problem if you can't even articulate it? I really think education took a step backward when the idea of letting the student discover everything for himself became universal. Now there are situations where that is the Ideal response - situations where you know the student has the knowledge to analyze, find the difficulties and fix them, but expecting people to find an answer without that knowledge basis is an avenue fraught with frustration. There are a few highly motivated people who can do it - yes - but in my experience those folk usually are applying analytical skills they obtained in a different field - which is great. I'm all for transfer of skills from one area to another. But for most people who want to get to the top of the mountain, helping them achieve their goal by pointing out the trail, the list of equipment you need, and the right way to climb over the rocks etc, etc etc is the better way.
I'm really looking forward to trying out some of my ideas. And the online classes inspire me to real life classes and vice versa. And then they inspire books! (Inspired to Design, and Working in a Series, both published by C&T, came from my online classes).
And now back to my research....if you have been, thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing you in class - online with the academy of quilting or in Real Life on Cape Cod (firstname.lastname@example.org). Elizabeth