Well, I did it again… wrote a draft, and then life happened. Two years of it.
I still find what I wrote below to be relevant with a bit of updating, as I am once again a sabbatical replacement, this time at Doane University in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ll be filling in for my friend Eric Stearns while he’s doing a residency down at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
One of the great things about being a gypsy, er, I mean sabbatical replacement, is that you get to step into someone else’s shoes, and see what it feels like to walk a few miles….
My personal interpretation of an ideal sabbatical replacement is that I am there to keep the program moving forward in the direction the tenured professor desires, but also to share my own unique studio and teaching strategies. Selfishly, it is also an opportunity for me to emulate someone else’s approach to teaching, potentially strengthening my own teaching philosophy and classroom approach.
This doesn’t mean that all of the work has been done for me, and all I have to do is follow a pre-set syllabus & grading rubric. On the contrary, the challenge is to implement my own teaching style, while maintaining the integrity of the program. We all bring different things to the table, and I firmly believe students are more likely to develop a unique “artistic voice” early on when working with a variety of teachers, synthesizing the various approaches and information into their own individual learning experience.
At the ceramics program of Indiana University Southeast Brian Harper has some really big shoes to fill, and lots of new ways to approach teaching. I think the world of Brian, particularly the energy and openness he puts into his teaching, and I’m really interested in using some of his approaches in my own teaching methodologies….
Brian, if you’re reading this, after two years I can say that it was a true pleasure to work together. I have even more respect for you, and the time we spent teaching together will continue to influence me for a long, long time. Thank you for being such a great example for me, your students and the rest of the world.
I can only hope that some day I’ll grow up to be just like you….. Bernie mug and all!!!