On My Teaching

“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”

Paulo Freire

 

I never went to art school. I never studied with any “masters” unless you count a few radical but respected curriculum theorists who barely had time for me to sit at their feet, which they wouldn’t tolerate anyway. My only professional training is as a public school teacher.

 

I do not come from any particular lineage of study, method or practice. I am not highly specialized, I do not believe that niching is universally useful or good for one’s spirit, and as a slut of all media I will not limit my inquiries for the sake of being better at capitalism. I resent and resist the commodification of consciousness and creativity. Those belong to no one and to everyone.

 

Knowledge isn’t something that someone else has and then deposits into you as if you’re empty.

 

That’s what you do in a bank, not a classroom.

 

“Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information.”― Freire

 

Knowledge is constructed by you, in relation to what you experience.

 

This is called constructivist theory. Or, not acting like a celebrity in a fucked up caste system of personality-driven “brands.”

 

The processes I teach are not licensed or proprietary. In fact, I have no unique-to-me process, it has no hashtag, and as such it’s almost unmarketable. It is not “sacred.” It might be, at times, profane.

 

I am not into hierarchies. I am not a “ladyboss,” or a femme-preneur or whatever bullshit in a blush-colored handwriting font currently graces the newest round of inspirational memes that make systems of domination more palatable these days.

 

I do not believe in masters, ascended or degreed, or in the inherent merit of institutional paper crowns. I have had mentors and have studied with elders; their names are now dust. I do not need nor want assistants to do set up and clean up so I only have to make an entrance and be a bigger deal than others in the room. I haul my own trash at the end of the day.

 

My teaching is rhizomatic: it propagates laterally — not from the top > down.

 

Take anything you learn from me and teach it to others. If you can get paid to do that, awesome.

 

I do think I have some gifts, but they’re only valuable if I give them away. What I am very good at is offering raw material for you to work with in a supportive environment, with methods that have been consistently successful with a broad range of abilities and diverse populations.

 

This is called differentiated instruction. Or, giving a fuck about each person as a complex individual with a specific set of gifts, deficits, and unique learning styles.

 

I have the ability to show up, as I am, and appreciate what you create, as you are. I can slang words around in snappy ways, yeah. I can render an image like a motherfucker. Whatever. Being good at shit doesn’t make you a good teacher. I do not want you to be like me; I want you to be like YOU.

 

My workshops are structured, but how you work with the materials once you know the basics is very choose-your-own-adventure. I want, with all the internal and external resources at my disposal, to create the optimal conditions for you to uncover and radiate your own creative medicine into the world. Everything that I have, I want to share.

 

I want you to make a mark, and then another and another, through diligent, unfettered play, and suddenly — almost without noticing it — your arms can barely hold all the art you’ve made.

 

I want to sit next to you and in the bell of your mouth hear you speak a true thing.

 

I want to attach zero meaning to it, and just let it ring.

 

There is no such thing a politically neutral offering.

 

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”― Freire

 

And so, I bring some wisdom to the table, but also my shadow, my flaws, my Whiteness, my privilege, and my own lenses of looking at the world.

 

My hope is that this situates my pedagogy in deeper relationship with those around me.

 

My hope is that we co-create experiences of deep learning.

 

In this way, my teaching isn’t about me.

 

It’s about you.

 

It’s about all of us, together.