Teaching is essentially a collaborative experience between professor and student. Together, we discover, learn and make connections between a students' culture and the immediate community and that of others.
As an educator, I like to provide my students with as many collaborative opportunities as possible. These collaborative opportunities involve any number of combinations, inside and outside the class room, within the university, within the local community and across continents. Since traveling abroad to South Asia, I have been able to involve my current students in a number of exchange critiques via skype with students and faculty in India. Feedback comes from more than 7,000 miles away in real time, as students in both countries present their work. These collaborative exchange critiques have been an amazing and inspiring experience.
Another collaborative teaching experience is what I call the five senses approach to teaching and demonstrating. In a printmaking class, for example, I remind students about the different sensations and how these sensations impact our understanding and appreciation of art. When students are preparing a palette to roll up ink from - I remind them to rely not only on the appearance of the ink as it is rolled out over the glass plate, but to listen to the sound of the ink. I compare the correct sound to that of a distant thunderstorm on the horizon. An, even gentle rumble that has a distinct rhythm. "Can you hear it?", I ask each student while rolling the brayer over the glassy ink palette in an active class room demonstration. When every student agrees, we move on. This use of all five senses in a demonstration engages students and makes for a rewarding learning experience. As visual artists we rely primarily on our visual sense. I try to break this up with different activities and discussions throughout a course. This pedagogical variation creates an active, memorable and engaging learning experience for all.
In addition to providing collaborative demonstrations for my students, students have an opportunity to visit my professional studio to observe first-hand the creative work I am engaged in. This collaborative experience outside of the classroom becomes another form of undergraduate research where students can reap the benefits of having active art world professionals as their professors.