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aesthetics for students (long)

updated tue 26 jan 99


Darrell Gargus on mon 25 jan 99

The thing that I really appreciated that my ceramic teacher did was when
we had crits, they were group crits, and not only were they group crits
but the students would look at the pots and make comments. Now, our
classes were divided up into intermedite (sp) and advanced BUT they met
at the same time and had crits at the same time. Seeing the advanced
work really helped in making me see what I was doing wrong and where I
wanted to go with my pots skill wise. Once I got the skill then I
manipulated the vessel. I had someone to "compete" with silently. She
never knew that I was competeing with her, but I admired her skill and I
wanted to be able to throw just as well as she did. She gave me the
motivation.. I really think that is what some ppl really need to
someone to secretely compete with and to get the recongition when they
are improving. My teacher also would sit down one on one with some
students that were attempting some new thing like handles or lids and
walk through it with them to make sure they really SAW the process. Not
just think that they did. He also made us throw 10 finished pieces a
week. Now, that doesn't seem like much (which it isn't after a while)
but the limit really made us become aware of the pieces we were making
and not to just keep the pot just because we threw it.

Lori Leary wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> > However, you do bring up a major concern of mine without realizing it, which
> > do you move students from just throwing things to really
> > appreciating and looking at what they make? This is a community center whe
> > the clay classes are considered recreation....
> > Sandy D.
> Good point to bring up. I also teach in a community setting and I have
> often pondered this question. And the pressure to let folks do as they
> want can be strong (after all, they are paying YOU for their
> fun/therapy/relaxation, whatever). To a certain extent, I allow this to
> happen. After all, some students are just not ready to stretch
> themselves or take risks with their clay, and it does no one good to get
> in power struggles.
> BUT....
> I do feel very strongly that if someone is to be my student, there are
> certain standards of craftsmanship that they must maintain..... plan
> what they are going to make, make nice bottoms and well defined rims on
> pots, use thoughtful glazing techniques, ect. I don't expect my
> student's pots to look like mine; (nor do I want them to), but I do
> expect their pots to be well crafted in accordance with their skill
> level. Their work reflects my skill (not my self worth, by the way) as
> a potter AND as a teacher. For THAT they are paying me.
> I am fortunate to have wonderful students, most of whom are eager to
> learn and keep moving forward. But there are a few things that I have
> done that may have helped them along....
> As a teacher, I don't feel it is necessary to go around smashing pots to
> make my point. Most students already know if their pot is lacking, and
> they will be much harder on themselves that I (or any teacher) ever
> will. Humor, ("No guts, no glory!"), encouragement ("I think you can
> take that pot a little further"...) and honest critiques of the pots in
> question("Now why does this handle seem to work better than that
> handle?") can go a long way toward helping a student understand that
> it's not such a big deal to take chances in their work.
> Another thing that I think has helped is that I am a book junkie, and I
> allow my personal collection of pottery/art/history books to be checked
> out on a week to week basis. We also have pictures of pots everywhere,
> people bring in cuttings from magazines, catalogs, whatever. Students
> can't know quality work unless they see the good, the bad, AND the ugly.
> Hosting workshops have been great, seeing other viewpoints, methods, and
> skills have been extraordinarily valuable in getting those creative and
> risk taking juices flowing. If I have a student that is skilled or
> knowledgeable in a certain area, I have them share their expertise.
> And to get back to pugmills....aqquiring a used Walker pugmill last year
> really made a difference not only in my student's work, but in mine,
> too. Hey, if you don't think that the pot you just made is up to snuff,
> well heck....just throw it in the pugmill and make another!
> Not everyone can afford lots of books, host workshops, or own a
> pugmill. But by just being aware of what is going on with students,
> being honest, and perhaps taking a few risks yourself, I think it's
> possible to push students in a non-academic setting.
> Lori L.
> with laryngitis of the throat, but not of the fingers......
> Pawleys Island, SC