Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art students beware!

Had lunch on Thursday with another art teacher from the museum school I teach at, and the subject of "non-teaching teachers" came up again. I have discussed this subject in an earlier blog post, but it never fails to amaze me. Apparently it's an experience many have had.

My colleague told me that during a class recently, she was explaining the different types of brushes available (rounds, flats, filberts). And one of her students, who has a B.F.A. from a prestigious art program, came up to her and thanked her for relaying this information, that she had never heard it before!

Now I have to admit, one doesn't really need to know the various types of brushes to be a good painter. Frankly, I just grab whatever is there. If it's a round, fine, if it's a paper towel, fine.

But when you have shelled out upwards of $100,000 for an art education, you like to think that someone would have clued you in to this basic information at some point over the four-year period.

Again I ask myself, having had similar experiences as a student, HOW do people who are earning tenured professors' salaries manage to get away with not doing their jobs? If their conscience doesn't get them, which apparently it doesn't, why doesn't the system catch them?

If you were a baker and a customer came into your bakery and asked for a cake, and you wouldn't give them one, they would leave and not come back, and you'd be out of a job. If you were a cab driver and someone got into your cab and you refused to drive them anywhere, they would leave and not come back, and you'd be out of a job. So how is it that (some) art professors can get away with not teaching their students?

I guess it riles me so much because I had teachers like that, and at the time I made excuses for them, continued to pay my tuition, and learned by reading books on art technique plus trial and error in my own studio. Now as a teacher myself, I feel it is my job to educate as thoroughly as I can -- not to read the newspaper, attend conferences, stay home and work on writing a book on how to draw, or any of the other things my professors did instead of teach class.

I guess it makes you appreciate your dedicated teachers more, and figure that there must be some justice out there somewhere for people who don't do what they are hired to do.


ESZ said...

Hi Catherine,
I agree with you on this subject. I also wondered why there was no talk of the reality of being your own manager and really having to know some business knowledge to promote yourself. This was a void for me and I hope now there is a class or at least a discussion of survival skills and what options there are out there for artists.

Catherine Carter said...

There seem to be more courses for art students on career/business issues these days. Let's hope the teachers of those classes make the effort to present pertinent and helpful information to their students, just as studio teachers need to do. Thank you for writing!