The child got up from her chair in the middle of class, twice, sat on the floor in the lotus position, closed her eyes and ohm-ed audibly. In the bucket-list painting class, an adult began to doze. Out in the landscape I wondered if my suggestions were simply going in one ear, if at all, and out the other.
I don’t have a Hawaii fifth-year university teaching certificate, but I do have a few years experience in the field under my belt and consider myself in the “working professional” class of faculty, like the teachers who taught me—desirable by a top art school I know and distinguished for excellence from the rest.
But in the first Saturdays of February, I see I can still learn something about human nature and various styles of learning. I’m finding it a challenge. And I like challenge! Like DH who’s developed an immense respect for mothers since taking on the role of caregiver for his two granddaughters, now ages 3 and 1, since their birth, now I have a huge respect for classroom teachers.
We each come to “class” with different paradigms, different backgrounds and existing points of view, and previously learned behaviors. Somewhere, sometime, I hope the twain will meet.
If I may generalize, there are two approaches to teaching/learning art. One is by beginning with the basics and then allowing our abilities and talent to develop. The other is for students to freely express themselves, uninhibited, and color “outside of the box” right from the beginning.
I advocate starting with the basics. By learning the basics, what follows is so much easier. In visual art, much is about the logic of light. In life, much is about kindness, gratitude, and respect.
One of the reasons I decided to offer art lessons to kids in the neighborhood is that the public schools allegedly do not teach it anymore. It appears there is more than art that they aren’t teaching anymore, i.e., I see what other educators describe as “out of control” in my own studio. The other reason is I want to pass on what I know how to do and give something back to my community in return for what I have received.
There are two adult students this semester who wanted to join an advanced class without taking the basic courses. Before giving the okay, I asked to see their portfolios or that they enroll in Painting I—in fairness to the other students who have done the lessons in sequence and to have everyone on the same “page.” I am so glad I did because it prepared me for their added and different energies, and to spot what is missing.
Both my youth and adult classes are designed with the same curriculum, but the lessons naturally vary. For the children, who are bright youngsters, I know I must change the activities often to accommodate their attention span and high energy, as well as to challenge them so they don’t get bored and act out. I give them individual attention, rest breaks, and try to make the time fun with surprises. They really keep me on my toes!
As for the adults, I understand that we are older now and perhaps our brains are starting to slow down, so I will be patient and offer reinforcement, such as assigned chapters to read in the textbook in addition to demonstrations. I’ll encourage them to remain open and to try something new, even though they are used to doing things in a familiar way.
Colds and flu have been reasons for absences already, but, yes, please stay home if you are ill and you can catch up later. We will wash our hands when we first arrive, just as we learned in early ed.
I wish we would all get a good night’s sleep on Friday and eat breakfast before coming to class. Do meditate first. Then, please show up with your tuned senses. I am happy to share what I know. And as your aunty and kumu (teacher), I am so very grateful to learn from you.