I’ve had this conversation with teachers for years. It has to do with making art. It’s about time, or the lack there of. So many times I hear art teachers say that they would make hard if they had the time. Or, that they don’t make art because of a lack of time. In either case the facts are the same. Teachers who teach art are not artists. At least for many of them this is the case.
I get it. And in no way am I trying to attack or accuse the profession or the professionals. I am trying to make sense of it however. How is it that we can make the greatest impact on our students? I believe it is by walking the walk so to speak. I think when we stand up and tell students to push through their fear and insecurities, And make something beautiful and meaningful, then it might make a stronger case if we could share with them how we also struggle as adults with the exact same issues that they face has children. Being a teacher is not about having all the right answers or knowing everything. Being a teacher is about being a traveler, and Explorer, and a documentarian.
It’s about walking down a path and then calling back to younger travelers and warning them of the pitfalls at the various points along their travels as well as showcasing the wonders you have seen. Nobody expects a middle school math teacher to push the boundaries of theoretical or quantum mathematics. Art is a different beast however. You can know all the facts but if you don’t know what it is like to face the soul crushing dread of failure after years of artistic development and exploration then you can never empathize with your students. To them failure is the worst thing ever. And why wouldn’t it be? We reinforce this idea throughout the educational process where failure is the worst grade on the scale.
In art however and design, failure is a part of the process it helps us to sharpen our focus and illuminate possibilities that will not yield the consequences we desire. We as teachers are often not very comfortable with failure ourself. And I think that this may be the reason so many of us don’t make art.
For me personally, I believe heart saved my life. It was my refuge in an abusive home, It’s set me apart from my classmates and gave me an identity, and eventually, would give me not one but three different careers involving the arts. I am eternally grateful that my life has been one marked by creativity and imagery. I believe in God. And I thank him every day for the gift of creativity. It’s part of the reason I want to pass it on to my students. I believe it makes God happy when he sees the people he created creating other things. Kind of like a father who watches His son make the game-winning homerun and he leans over to the person next to him with a smile on his face and says “that’s my boy”!
Posting the web comic one page at a time or even a couple of pages has turned out to be a challenge for me during the school year. Family commitments, professional requirements, compounded by sheer exhaustion some days make it difficult to get the work done. But that’s what I’m committed to doing. I want to get the work done.
I hope if anybody is reading this, you are enjoying the story so far. I hope you’ll share it. There are a lot of surprises ahead and I can't wait for you to see them. I hope it will awaken in you a joy of mysterious things that he’s been with me since I was a little boy. In any case if you are reader of gob, I hope you enjoy it. If you are a teacher of art, I hope you will put this computer or phone or tablet down. Not forever, not even for an extended time, but for a short while.
I hope you will pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and as you hear sound of the graphite scratching the paper you will remember what it was like to be young and creative with an entire world outside waiting for youth discover it, as well as an entire world inside of you waiting to be let out. Do it for yourself. Do it for your students. But please, whatever your motivation, do it.