[Art Education] Thoughts on Less Experienced Instructors

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    [Art Education] Thoughts on Less Experienced Instructors

    Hello everyone,

    I'm not sure if this topic something commonly discussed, I certainly have never seen it in all the time I've been here.

    I was wondering what everyone's opinions (especially those who are/were teachers) are on artists teaching/providing tuition who are younger and lack the experience of older age and more years in professional practise.

    Assuming that they're genuinely hard working and not some hack job who's out to make a quick buck off students who don't know better, because the latter doesn't really need discussing.

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    This kind of question leads to all kinds of sticky questions and answers. First of all how much experience is not enough? What level of student will the teacher be teaching? There are plenty of young teachers with less experience but more energy and translatable passion for the work and especially for teaching. This is one of those questions that really has a lot of variables and is hard to answer in general.

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    What bcarman said. You need some specific examples of what your talking about. It's clear what you DON'T mean, but it's not clear as to what you DO mean.

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    I can't complain, since I used to be one of them.


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    Just my two cents.

    Is this kind of like “fake it til you make it" scenarios? Because that can turn ugly really fast if you can't deliver what you promise. That wouldn't be fair to others.

    Last edited by Pigeonkill; March 3rd, 2013 at 01:07 AM.
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    Age is irrelevant, skill level is. As is an ability to explain the what and the why of that skill.

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    Thanks for your responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    This kind of question leads to all kinds of sticky questions and answers.
    When has CA ever shied away from sticky questions or answers?
    You're right that the variables are endless, hmmm...


    Elwell: Please do share more of your wisdom.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pigeonkill View Post
    Is this kind of like “fake it til you make it" scenarios? Because that can turn ugly really fast if you can't deliver what you promise. That wouldn't be fair to others.
    No, not that kind of scenario or any other scenario with negative connotations, we know those are bad.
    I'm simply talking about someone with less experience but still hard working, so I guess it does imply that some instances of 'faking' maybe unavoidable due to less experience.


    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Age is irrelevant, skill level is. As is an ability to explain the what and the why of that skill.
    I believe it to be relevant in this case. As you've said, one needs to have the ability to teach, which is a whole other skill-set.
    A 21 year old guy who's been spending all their time honing their drawing skills isn't likely to have the life experience or industry experience necessary to teach, no matter how good they may be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post



    I believe it to be relevant in this case. As you've said, one needs to have the ability to teach, which is a whole other skill-set.
    A 21 year old guy who's been spending all their time honing their drawing skills isn't likely to have the life experience or industry experience necessary to teach, no matter how good they may be.
    If they have drawing skills and are half decent at explaining things then I don't see why they aren't qualified to teach. Maybe they won't be able to help with advice on working in the actual industry, but they can certainly teach skills in how to paint and draw.

    Pretty sure Rembrandt was had his own studio he taught at at like 22 or something, same with Van Dyck at like 19 or something. Might not be exactly right in terms of numbers, but there is a history of skilled young artists who would teach. And for a more contemporary example, Jeff Watts started teaching at around 20/21 I believe (don't think it was called Watts Atelier at that point, but was more of a precursor to it).

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    I don't think you can make a blanket judgment. It depends on too many things. In particular, WHAT is the teacher teaching? How much do they know about the subject they're teaching? And how good are they at communicating it?

    If someone is teaching, say, color theory or life drawing, they don't need "industry experience", they just need to know enough about color theory or life drawing to be able to impart useful information on those subjects, and they need the communication skills to do so. And that's it, really. Doesn't matter if they're 20 or 80. I've had young teachers who were good at what they taught, and old ones who weren't, and all sorts in between.

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    Usually the teacher pulls in people who have less ability as students so it doesn't really matter the teachers ability as long as what they teach isn't flat out wrong. A good teacher with limited skills will teach all they know. The student moves on once they get all they can from that teacher.

    Last edited by dpaint; March 3rd, 2013 at 09:31 AM.
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    Teaching is a skill, which takes some time to develop through theory and practice. In general, it takes about 10 years to be good at teaching, animation, illustration, concept art, programming <insert your favourite skill here>. Being a skilled artist doesn't necessarily mean you're a skilled teacher. I usually take it with a grain of salt if a school promotes itself by stressing that all teachers are experienced artists: they might as well be crappy teachers.

    On top of that, the people I have met over the past 30 years that are both skilled professionals at art, mathematics, or computer science, and teaching, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. As a result, most skilled professionals are pretty bad teachers. The exceptions to the rule are true diamonds...

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    I agree with QueenGwenewre.

    HunterKiller. If you feel like you are less experienced than others, but people are still interested in what you do know. You are still in the green and not putting anybody on. The more experience and services you can provide, the higher price you can reasonable command.

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    A factor that people might not be aware of in these situations is that sometimes teachers, especially those with industry experience, might be sharing insight and offering direction that the student can't quite grock yet (grock is an old person term for grasp). A bit like a carrot on a stick, leading the student a bit and encouraging their own discovery. To the student it might look and sound like BS or that the teacher is clueless...until they reach that awareness, which may be some years later. Just my two cents.

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    Upon leaving school, my experience at my local art college was with teachers who must have been teaching there for 30-40 years. Their idea of teaching art was to give the students something to draw and then go into another room to read a newspaper and drink coffee. This was pre-internet and these days the idea probably sounds ridiculous, but thanks to their "experienced teaching" it was another eight years before I discovered that there were techniques to drawing which could be studied and it wasn't something you were just supposed to make up as you went along and be naturally good at or not. When I first opened a Loomis book my eyes nearly fell out of my head.

    Older doesn't necessarily translate to wiser, and I think sometimes younger people have their own advantage in teaching, as young people are more likely to have energy, drive and enthusiasm. So I think as long as they have the knowledge and skills and the communication ability to convey them, anything else is an optional bonus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    A factor that people might not be aware of in these situations is that sometimes teachers, especially those with industry experience, might be sharing insight and offering direction that the student can't quite grock yet (grock is an old person term for grasp). A bit like a carrot on a stick, leading the student a bit and encouraging their own discovery. To the student it might look and sound like BS or that the teacher is clueless...until they reach that awareness, which may be some years later. Just my two cents.
    Ha, this is SO true! Sometimes things don't sink in until years later and you have that "Aha" moment where you suddenly understand what your teacher was trying to get at.

    I remember when my Junior year painting teacher was ranting on and on about "color shapes" most of us students thought it was a waste of time and were all like "what's he going on about, color shapes, what? Come on, show us how to do cool slick rendering and stuff!" Years later I was painting and it clicked "hey, color shapes, that IS what I'm doing here, isn't it... Is THAT what he was talking about!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    Elwell: Please do share more of your wisdom.
    I first started teaching about five years out of school. I used to always wear a suit to class, as a subliminal symbol of authority, since I was barely older than some of my students. I was fortunate in having had some very good teachers, so I just tried to do what they did. I guess it worked, since it's eighteen years later and I'm still at it. No more suits, though.


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    Thanks very much to everyone's great responses, and I think my question has been thoroughly answered.

    I'm sure there are many young artists/students visiting this thread and I thought maybe it would be helpful if we take the thread in a different but relevant direction with how to spot bad teaching.

    Birkeley already chimed in with "teachers who leave the class to read newspapers and drink coffee."

    My personal contribution:

    "Teachers who point out your mistakes but don't offer a solution."

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    Thanks very much to everyone's great responses, and I think my question has been thoroughly answered.

    I'm sure there are many young artists/students visiting this thread and I thought maybe it would be helpful if we take the thread in a different but relevant direction with how to spot bad teaching.

    Birkeley already chimed in with "teachers who leave the class to read newspapers and drink coffee."

    My personal contribution:

    "Teachers who point out your mistakes but don't offer a solution."
    One thing that infuriated me while I was in art school: "Teacher says good job...then doesn't bother pointing out weaknesses, mentioning areas to improve, or making suggestions." If I wanted just compliments I'd show my parents instead of pay thousands of dollars for someone to say it. I remember staying after class a few times and forcing teachers to critique me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    My personal contribution:

    "Teachers who point out your mistakes but don't offer a solution."
    I partially agree, as there are things you really need to discover for yourself. A teacher can push you in the right direction, without offering the solution on a silver plate.

    My personal contribution is teachers who don't recognize that all students are unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Teachers should teach principles through techniques; the latter are not necessarily the same, in detail, for each student. This one is actually a dangerous one, as it is a tiny little step from here towards students complaining that "my teacher doesn't see how great I am, I am even more unique than all of the others, my talent is too great to handle for this guy!"

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    Bad teachers: teachers who spend 90% of their classes evangelizing for PETA instead of talking about the subject they're actually supposed to teach.

    Also teachers who walk into class, glance at the assignments we've put up for review, yell "This is all shit!" and storm out. (Okay, in that case the teacher was having a... little moment. He was mostly rational the rest of the time.)

    Also teachers who just want to talk about themselves and can't be bothered to pay much attention to the students - this is especially bad if they're supposed to be coaching students in assembling their final portfolios.

    And of course bigoted teachers are always a problem. We had a couple of notoriously sexist teachers who basically ignored the female students. Not cool, man.

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    teachers who just trying to make money. Good teachers teach because they love to teach and will give you all the information you can absorb, bad teachers string you along to wrestle every penny they can out of you. Another example of this is someone who is very successful in their field and is paid a lot of money by a school to be a guest teacher but they really have no interest in teaching or don't even want to really be there.

    teachers who can't make it in the profession they are teaching and so are just bitter and worthless. This is not the same as people who love to do something but never wanted to do it as a profession but like to teach it.

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    I got asked to work with students at TAD and was very skeptical I A. knew anything useful or B. could teach it even if i did. I still feel that way, but fortunately the students are all extremely hardworking and we have a pretty good time, and the work looks really good.
    I tell them what I know, that I think Id like to have known about, ie networking, making money, useful methodologies for generating ideas or working efficicently organizing projects. Plus the usual photoshop hotkeys or 3d concepts.
    but most of the time we talk about the work and the topic. people bring in videos or talk about their own experience, and often I learn a lot from them.
    I feel more like I'm chairing a meeting than teaching younglings, cos theyre all the same age as me more or less and many of them are my mates. And 1 year in, Im a little more confident and less stuttery (a bit) but its still super fun.

    Elwells reminiscence about wearing a suit made me chuckle and nod; i made a little set behind my desk so it looked like my office was full of cool design stuff and books haha lol!!

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  39. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    there are things you really need to discover for yourself. A teacher can push you in the right direction, without offering the solution on a silver plate.
    That's totally true, but I meant what I said quite literally, as in telling you that 'xyz' is wrong then walking away. True story.

    Last edited by HunterKiller_; March 5th, 2013 at 02:25 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    That's totally true, but I meant what I said quite literally, as in telling you that 'xyz' is wrong then walking away. True story.
    Good teachers ask their students questions. As in "XYZ don't seem to be working...why do you think that is? What do you think may be some possible solutions here." Then they listen...and offer some gentle guidance or insight if the student still doesn't see. If the student does see they offer congratulations and encouragement.

    Personally I believe in teaching people how to fish.

    Last edited by JeffX99; March 5th, 2013 at 02:39 PM.
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    One of my teachers started teaching right when he finished his master degree at 26, he was pretty darn good, and he was better teacher than others i had with more years of experience under their belts.. So, even though you get a really young teacher at some point.. it might just surprise you how much you can learn from them.

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    just look how young prokopenko is on youtube.

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