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    Thumbs down Teachers Lack Of Inspiration

    hi, I'm interested in opinions about universiy fine arts degrees. I have started this year and was very excited and hoping to find inspirational and outrageous teachers. What I have found is lazy, uninspired teaches who would rather be all chummy than actually teach anything (I'm specifically talking about my drawing teacher) Some of the students are still doing stick figures after 10 weeks, she raves on about how far everyone has come but I can see no improvement or fire in anyone. The class is boring, she has no clue how to teach and I'm paying top dollar to get my arts degree. I feel its a joke. What would you do?


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    Although I have 2 teachers at academy wich are amazing people , most of them are basically the same. But "Art" is something you can`t teach very well and you have to learn mostly on your own. Art-schools are mostly there to make it easier for you to force yourself into learning imho...

    Who cares what your classmates are doing anyway ? As long as you are drawing and painting your fingertips bloody and getting your degree , it shouldn`t worry you to much.

    (Of course the teachers could be much better in most cases but in the end its up to you to pick up the pencil. Always do your best no matter what...)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ilaekae
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    Thanks for your reply Corky, I guess, I shouldn't worry, I just expected more. I thought university would offer top rate tuition and I still believe the teachers contracts should be reviewed. I'm happy with my work but some of the exercises are bordering on ridiculous, she puts no thought into anything. I think I will take on some of the art lessons and challenges here to push myself beyond what I am offered at uni.

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    what are the exercises then?
    "Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing-- they dramatize"

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    Most university fine arts departments are atrocious.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by lillypilly View Post
    Thanks for your reply Corky, I guess, I shouldn't worry, I just expected more.
    As an artist, you'll always want more. Not just of your teachers but of yourself. We demand a lot and we're never truly satisfied. I once had a teacher mention this to me by asking me to bring in work I had done three years prior and I was almost embarrassed to do so. His point was that as precious as that piece was at the time, we've evolved and have become better. We demand that of ourselves and is inherent to us as artists.

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    When I went to college, I was going to major in art. My first painting class, the exercise for the whole semester was to paint a large canvas using only 3 colors. Just one big canvas. I smelled something wrong, so I dropped the class and changed my major to biology. Now I have a full time job that pays the bills, and I'm learning and doing art in my free time.

    I think the best thing to do is if you can't get much from your art classes, is to come here to CA and learn. You can learn a lot more on your own, from books, and from people here (unless you have an excellent art department at your school, of course)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Most university fine arts departments are atrocious.
    I can certainly attest to this. Make no mistake. You are being groomed for a hobby and not a career if you leave everything up to your instructors.

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    yeah, i had a teacher who hated aftereffects. he was a 3d studio max guy, but he had to teach this aftereffects class too.
    it was a 4 hour long class and he'd come in, give a 5 minute lecture, then he'd leave. everyone else in the class would leave too... except me.
    when we showed our finals for the class, everyone had the same shit: a square, a triangle and a circle moving aorund, and their name animating around. it was terrible.
    i had figured out how to work the damn program on my own and blew everyone away, i had film grain, grunge, type, video clips, some 2d animation, stop motion, etc. everyone in the class was asking me all these questions afterwards... i ended up having a little class myself after the teacher left.
    for 3 and a half hours i taught that class after the finals and they learned more in that 3 hours than they had the whole quarter.

    dont leave your education up to your instructors.
    most of them are instructors because they couldn't hack it in the industry and haven't been in the industry for years and dont know what the fuck is going on out there. they dont know how to do what you want to learn because they haven't learned it themselves.

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    Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

    My lecturers in Art were cynical and burnt out too, applying minimum effort for maximum break-times and "just going to the office for 5 minutes" (read: We didn't see them again that day).

    It's obviously really hard for teachers to keep the enthusiasm going over the years - only 1 in a 100 students (or some similar number) will make enough of their Art degree post-college for it to have been worthwhile - that's a woefully low ratio. Also, it can be hard to define what it is exactly they teach. Most seem to lay low, hold their jobs and try not to rock the boat too much, never pushing the good students too far or encouraging the weak ones to catch up.

    But that's just Art college for you - apart from a handful of exceptional ones. You will get out what you put in, not what the lecturers put in you. Sad but true.
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    As a high school teacher I can say that it's not just college art curriculums that are suffering. In the U.S. education is suffering in so many ways. When you're dealing with public education the politicians and state departments are causing many of the problems and on the private side much of the trouble stems from the few people with the most power.

    I know this is an art forum so most of these things turn into complain about my art teacher (I'm an art teacher) but the problem is really so much bigger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by donalfall View Post
    Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.
    I would like to see you tell that to the guys at ATELIER.
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    I'd like to see him tell it to my face.

    Tristan Elwell
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    How's this for motivation? I once had an art class where on the very first day the instructor told us that we should all expect to get C's. Any higher and we would've had no business being there. If that class wasn't a requirement, I would've dropped it.

    I will admit that the figure drawing classes I have taken have been very helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lillypilly View Post
    hi, I'm interested in opinions about universiy fine arts degrees. I have started this year and was very excited and hoping to find inspirational and outrageous teachers. What I have found is lazy, uninspired teaches who would rather be all chummy than actually teach anything (I'm specifically talking about my drawing teacher) Some of the students are still doing stick figures after 10 weeks, she raves on about how far everyone has come but I can see no improvement or fire in anyone. The class is boring, she has no clue how to teach
    Why the heck are you in that class? if students are still doing stick figures then it is a remedial class. If you are any good you should be able to skip that class. If it is required as a prerequisite for a worthwhile class then show the teacher of the worthwhile class your portfolio and they should sign you off on the prerequisite.

    and I'm paying top dollar to get my arts degree.
    Unless you are going to ACCD you are not paying top dollar for your art degree.

    I feel its a joke. What would you do?
    If you are going to a university then the art program probably is a joke. However, that doesn't mean you are lost. Find out about teachers from other students who have had the classes. Take any class that sounds difficult. Don't worry about grades unless you feel you are getting good ones too easily. If you think you have gotten everything worth getting from your school then transfer to another.

    Quote Originally Posted by MCross View Post
    When I went to college, I was going to major in art. My first painting class, the exercise for the whole semester was to paint a large canvas using only 3 colors. Just one big canvas. I smelled something wrong, so I dropped the class and changed my major to biology. Now I have a full time job that pays the bills, and I'm learning and doing art in my free time.
    What you "smelled wrong" was an important excercise that forces you to work around limitations and learn to mix paints. You would be amazed what you can do with the 3 primaries, black, and white. As black and white aren't colors those are just three colors. In this case you were the one that was stupid, not your teacher.

    Sometimes you just need to trust your teacher. I ran into a lot of classes where I wondered what the heck I was doing when I was in the class. In the end it turned out to be like the whole "wax on, wax off" thing from the Karate Kid. Don't neccesarily write your teacher off as crazy/stupid/wrong untill after you have taken the class.

    Quote Originally Posted by AngryGulo View Post
    How's this for motivation? I once had an art class where on the very first day the instructor told us that we should all expect to get C's. Any higher and we would've had no business being there. If that class wasn't a requirement, I would've dropped it.
    If you have any class where you aren't struggling to get more than a C then your class isn't hard enough. That teacher was on the right track.


    I'm afraid to see what would happen if I became an art teacher. What I'd require would of course depend on what I was teaching, but regardless there would be great suffering.

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    You have to bug, pry, and dig information out of art professors. They don't part with knowledge willingly. Ask questions about everything you want to know about. Why that brush? Why are you holding it like that? Why that brand of paint? Why that shade of that colour? Your peers might think you're dumb for asking so many questions, but teachers should be able to spot your desire to learn more and respect you for it.
    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."

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    Don't forget, most students are completely wasting everyone's time.
    Obvious troll is obvious

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    That's how I feel about UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore). Some universities are more willing to squeeze money out of you than hand you an education. Literally, my friend spent $200 at Kinkos having stuff printed for some typography class. Everything is printed for free at my college, including tabloid sized color prints. It's included in my tuition. I will actually move before I go to UMBC. I'm unimpressed. I'm looking at University of Towson, so far I've heard a lot of great things and have met people who know artists working in the department.

    I actually go to a really good community college, but my tuition is much lower than what most people pay. Half the teachers in the program teach at MICA. I've learned more there than I have learned anywhere. I don't think $ == education. I think life is what you make of it, not what you pay for it.

    Have you looked into local art centers? I read you were considering something like that. You could always ask some of the seniors/senior professors about any workshops in your area. I found out about a life drawing workshop in my area for about $12 to walk in and draw nude models from a friend who is in his 30s. Ironically though, I found out the shop was also run by the Art Department Director who also is one of my teachers this semester. His name is Jim Adkins.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert.B View Post
    I would like to see you tell that to the guys at ATELIER.
    I think there is still some truth to the "those who can't do, teach" quote. I had a young teacher for my fine art class last year and she was atrocious. She knew jack squat about art and was simply telling the class what the head of the department was telling her to say. She had no real input whatsoever when it came to technical advice, at least that she actually understood herself. I think the most I got back from her was "Ooh, they actually look like eyes, don't they?". When she sat with us for a still live drawing, her outcome was one of the worst in the class. Thankfully the head of the department was an honest and rather knowledgeable teacher (god help the future classes now that he's retired), although I still ended up mostly teaching myself anything of value out of the lessson.
    Last edited by B u r l; May 7th, 2008 at 12:02 PM.

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    What I've found, as a grad of a poor State University's BFA program, is that the delusion and misinformation is something that most students here have been quite happy to accept. The instructors however have always been a mixed bag and I certainly don't want to subject all of them to my criticisms. In my experience I've had 2 or 3 part time teachers who taught mostly as a subsidy to their income and demonstrated that they were working artists first and foremost. Only one was a realist painter yet they all taught it in there classrooms and emphasized the importance it had on any pursuits and abstractions. They realize that the point of recreation was not for recreations sake but to discipline the eye and hand. That made them much more qualified as teachers. Also the simple fact that they realized that it's not a mortal atrocious sin do what one can do to make a buck and pay a month's bills. Even if that meant drawing a doodle for a small local news paper. It was important to do what you can do and do it well.

    Full-time instructors, especially the few we had who began teaching right out of grad school, promoted such an air of that Clement Greenberg brand of Fine Art elitism that it was suffocating. Within the faculty body was a culture of self perpetuation and that "if I have to explain it to you at all, you'll never get it" mentality. I really don't feel that I have to deconstruct their logic to find the holes for all of you as it seems like a lot of you have experienced this. Those holes are many and obvious. It's never been worth it to argue with them as by default the rules have been established in their favor and the objective stand no chance. Just know this. Outside of that academic setting, most of them do not exist.
    Last edited by N D Hill; May 7th, 2008 at 11:42 AM.

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    I like how most student like to bitch and moan about the quality of education they think there receiving when no one ever said they didnt have a choice in either paying a Institution 40 grand a year or spending 5k a year on DVDs and instructional books. Oh and If a piece of paper is what your after online degree programs are becoming more and more prevalent these days.
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  33. #22
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    Teachers Lack Of Inspiration
    Her ex husband, ex student...ex whatever...was 10 years younger then her. I think he was 23 years old when he married her.
    Here's a post at ratemyprofessors.com, that I censored to control the drama and protect the innocent.

    I had this instructor just 3 months after the divorce. Oh what a joy ride.

    Personally, I think she had borderline personality disorder. She actually gave some good insight, but man would she go off.

    That's why I ask all these questions about personality disorders. Most people wouldn't know a mental illness if you threw it at them.
    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1735

    As far as Atelier instruction goes.....that's the only place I've gone to where the instructor actually drew along with the students and demoed their work. So, if that ain't instruction, I don't know what is?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert.B View Post
    I like how most student like to bitch and moan about the quality of education they think there receiving when no one ever said they didnt have a choice in either paying a Institution 40 grand a year or spending 5k a year on DVDs and instructional books. Oh and If a piece of paper is what your after online degree programs are becoming more and more prevalent these days.
    That's all well and good and going to college for that little piece of paper validation is definitely bullshit when it comes to purely artistic pursuits. However the experience of regularly engaging your peers and not necessarily those of a like mind that you find on a web forum is valuable. As is exposing yourself to variety hopefully allowing for some creative cross pollination. And of course then putting your work on the chopping block. The school experience should cary very obvious benefits however it's quite broken, especially if you let it define you as an artist. Being made to defend your choices and their validity once in a while can be quite good for you.
    Last edited by N D Hill; May 7th, 2008 at 11:23 AM.

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    When i first got into art i did a year Tafe course( technical college), because 1: i could do night courses and 2: i was a massive beginner so their was no point wasting money on a expensive school when i just wanted a better handle on the basics, anyway most of the classes where helpful nothing outstanding but well suited for my level. But my painting class was awful for 6 weeks the teacher had us sticking pasta and rice on to a canvas i couldn't believe it I didn't learn a single thing except you can turn rice into popcorn if you leave the heat gun over it long enough, sorry if thats a bit irrelevant but my point is some teachers should go teach craft if thats all the knowledge they have too offer otherwise they cause more harm then good.

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    See, I had a great teacher who was actually working in the field and knew what he was doing . . . but the problem was, he gave you a good grade no matter what you did.

    Hands that look like an alien's? Perfect score.

    Can't do that negative space drawing? Aw it's okay, have a 100.

    I loved the instruction, but I was super disappointed to get my sketchbook back and have a perfect score on it.

    I ended up having to drop out mid-semester for health problems, so maybe it got better towards the end, but . . . seriously, I would have preferred a system of "well, you got an awful grade on this, so here's some extra work you can do to boost your grade." That doesn't usually work for most classes, but dammit, it would work for drawing!
    Last edited by Ohaeri; May 7th, 2008 at 10:46 AM.
    Let's do this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by complete2 View Post
    dont leave your education up to your instructors.
    Bingo! No matter the level of skill on your instructors, don't expect to get spoon fed ANYTHING. If your instructors aren't giving you what you want, MAKE them. If they deserve the jobs at all, they have the answers, they just may be lax and aren't providing it as readily as they should. They are human too, and everyone occassionally slacks off at work if they can (notice I'm on these forums a little too much during the day...). You are responsible for your own education!

    Also, especially first year (which is what this sounds like) their job isn't to provide inspiration and blow your mind. It's to make sure everyone has the basics down before moving on. It's twice as important at this stage than working on "art". If you are more advance than your class pull your teachers asside when you can and seek out specific help on areas you would like to know more. Hell, you can do that at any level of skill. You are paying not only for the classes, but to have the school's resources available, and that includes your teachers.

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  39. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by N D Hill View Post
    That's all well and good and going to college for that little piece paper validation is definitely bullshit when it comes to purely artistic pursuits. However the experience of regularly engaging your peers and not necessarily those of a like mind that you find on a web forum is valuable. As is exposing yourself to variety hopefully allowing for some creative cross pollination. And of course then putting your work on the chopping block. The school experience should cary very obvious benefits however it's quite broken, especially if you let it define you as an artist. Being made to defend your choices and their validity once in a while can be quite good for you.
    I agree. Peer and instructor review, when it's actually meaningful, is one of the best part of schools (the other is making contacts with other artists, which later turns into the beginning of your professional network). All of the nuts and bolts information is easily available online in places like this, or on dvds, or in books, etc. Hell, even peer reviews are readily available in places like this. You could probably offer an artist you admire online a tiny fraction of what your tuition costs for the occassional review and nudge in the right direction and end up with a better education, as long as you were self motivated enough to keep working hard on your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coene View Post
    If you have any class where you aren't struggling to get more than a C then your class isn't hard enough. That teacher was on the right track.
    LOL. I would believe that bull if the instructor hadn't made it clear that she did not believe in giving anything higher in a Foundations class. I've never been in a class where everyone had the same grade, and those students who worked hard and improved dramatically did not deserve to share the same grade as those students who just sat around and chatted.

    Quote Originally Posted by fanficbug View Post
    See, I had a great teacher who was actually working in the field and knew what he was doing . . . but the problem was, he gave you a good grade no matter what you did.
    I've once had a similar experience except that she was a terrible instructor and I was an aggressive student. I know I did poorly in that class but I still got a high grade. I wasn't happy at all, I got nothing out of that class. I have had brutal teachers who gave me less than stellar grades, but the experience I got out of them was so worth it and I didn't care about the grades I ended up with.

    I agree with the majority here in that instructors are either a hit or miss. Only your own self motivation and hard work will get you to improve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert.B View Post
    I would like to see you tell that to the guys at ATELIER.
    You know what i've noticed? Whenever a class counts towards college credit...it sucks. In CT we have an Atelier workshop which specializes in teaching Iron and Steal sculpture. I took a road trip to check the place out and found the teachers were brilliant, the classes intuitive and well managed. I found students who cared about what they were learning and produced amazing works.

    So pair up teachers who teach as just a "job" at a university, with students who just want a degree... you get rancid shit. Remove the credits, swap the location and all the sudden, this shit rocks. Teachers know the students they get are there taking that class because they really want to (students pay out of pocket because financial aid doesn't cover it) and give the teacher the freedom to teach as they see fit and it's like a goddamn miracle. Water into wine, etc etc.
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    I agree, Blue. Profs get excited about teaching what they enjoy and what the students really want to learn. It's hard to get excited about a class you got steamrolled into teaching.

    On a personal note, my uni art classes were a complete nightmare. I tested out of as many low-levels as I could and only took a handful of ones that would transfer, but it was still ridiculous. I've blocked a lot of it out.

    In one class, our prof had us sit in a circle and one at a time someone would put their project in the center. She then instructed us to each say one descriptive word about the project (ie "red") with absolutely NO opinions. That was the entirety of the "critique." No shit. The next project we did the same thing, but this time we were allowed to give comments on the projects. Just to clarify, I asked if she was asking us to critique the pieces. She looked at me like I had two heads and said, "I suppose you could..." And then I was the meanie all semester that actually critiqued the projects. That was the same professor who gave us a ink project to do and was mortified when I used some white gouache in a splatter technique. She told me matter of fact that you NEVER use gouache with ink.

    The painting prof was in his 80s and had been there forever. His idea of teaching a class was going to sit with the other old men students (seniors got free art classes) and chat. The computer classes had been taught as electives by the Art Dean, and it was just a class of 3 kids and him reading the instruction manuels. The computer room was an old janitor's closet with a handful of old macs in it. Fun times.

    My best friend got her art degree at a uni and it was bar-none the worst experience she's ever had. My favorite was hearing about how they spent the first half of an entire semester doing blind contour drawings, THEN they moved to drawing only with shadows...for the other half.

    I'm gonna say that uni art programs are designed for people who want to become grade school art teachers, as that was the entire population of students at my uni. Sometimes they add side programs (Graphic Design being the most popular), but they don't ever really know what they're doing. I know FIVE different kids from FIVE different unis who went for Graphic Design, hated it and then went to a private art school.

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