Sunday, February 17, 2013

Imposter Syndrome and teaching

As a lot of my friends and acquaintances know, I recently got greenlit for a class I proposed to a small Staten Island art center. (I got the notice several hours after writing the last post, because the universe apparently enjoys giving me whiplash).

It's hard to reconcile the degree to which I want to (and the ability I think I have to) teach, with the sort of seething Imposter Syndrome that I get every time someone looks up at me. I have some very passionate opinions about the education of budding artists, as well as some ideas about how I could have been better served when I was one - but I simultaneously feel like it's the rankest hubris imaginable to present myself as an authority of any kind. I'm twenty-three, I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm supposed to stand in front of a group of highschoolers and act like I have something worthwhile to say?

Well, yes. I do have things worth saying to them. My job is not to pretend I'm a font of wisdom but to talk about my experiences, which I do believe are worth sharing. (The point is moot, anyway: the class has been approved and included in the brochure just sent off to the printers, and while I haven't signed my contract yet it's not like I'm not going to.)

What I want to do with this class is get the students started on thinking about their art. As I put it in my proposal:
There are so many strong opinions as to what good art is, especially once one gets to a college-level art program; since many students coming straight from high school have never had to think critically about what their art is, it's easy for them to lose sight of it along the way because of this. I know that's what happened to me.

I'm not so delusional as to think that it's within my power to fix this singlehandedly. I do think, however, that a highschool-level illustration class that focused on each student's personal artistic voice as well as the medium of illustration would do much to start the thought process
at least.
That's still a big thing to attempt, but, you know, it's not really anything different than what I've been doing with those friends of mine still in school who come to me for advice. This does not of course stop me from losing it when I think about the reality of standing up in front of three to eight students and having to teach them things, but it means that every time I sit down to work on my syllabus, I realize I know what I want to happen, and even have some ideas about how.

I have a couple of months before this is an actual thing in my life as opposed to an abstract concept in the future, and I'll probably record the experience here for posterity. Because I do want to teach, as a real future goal, and this is the first real step in that direction.

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