Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
I’ve long characterized myself as a constant student, somebody who has a great passion and facility for learning. The downside for me, I’ve realized, is that I’ve never been quite sure how to transition from that into teaching.
I enjoy teaching, the few times I’ve done it. I’ve been second chair on a few Basic Neo-Futurism courses now and finally feel confident enough to try teaching one on my own should the opportunity arise (it’s not that I don’t understand the aesthetic and philosophy backwards and forwards, just that I had no real sense of how to show it to others). I’ve spent some time as a “guest artist” for a few After School Matters sessions and will likely be doing some subbing for Dana when she starts up teaching ASM again. I’ve been invited, next week, to teach an Introduction to Theatre workshop to a handful of gifted students at Whittier Elementary in my hometown of Downers Grove, Illinois. I had a very superficial conversation last night with somebody who works for Northwestern’s Cherubs program about how one gets involved with that excellent educational model.
I used to be very fearful of the idea of teaching, in no small part because I continue to wrestle with the demon voice in my skull that tells me I actually know nothing worth imparting, that tells me because I have not accomplished as much as I might like to have by now that I have actually accomplished nothing at all. Those voices used to be much, much louder and more persistent, and in the cacophony of that negativity I shied away from teaching, determined that nobody should be forced to follow my failed carcass off of that precipice.
I don’t know yet if I could be a good teacher. I know that I have a lot of information at my disposal and that when you start me talking about certain topics you may later wish you knew how to shut me off. I know that those things I love I want others to love as well, I know that I am willing to put the effort into arguing the case for that which I value. I know that once upon a time I would feel grateful to have somebody with more wisdom and experience than me take me under their wing and tell me how they learned to be who they are, and I believe I want to do the same for those who are where I was once. I know that I am capable of handling the eyes and attention of an audience and I am capable of communicating clearly and concisely to that audience.
I believe I have the tools to be a good teacher, but then again, owning a set of state-of-the-art Black & Deckers doesn’t necessarily make you a carpenter.
My mind may have, finally, understood that there isn’t really a demarcation between student and teacher, that one can be both at the same time. That, in fact, the best teachers I’ve had never claimed to be the authority on the subject, as much as somebody who was just a little further up the road, holding a lantern to show me how to get where they were at that moment.