Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First class 1/6/08

I suppose that I should start with a disclaimer - less for myself than for the fact that I am commenting on a room full of other people. I will attempt to be honest in this blog - noting things that as a teacher and artist I need to work on, when things seem to be engaging, and when things seem not to be engaging. Team teaching is a fascinating enterprise because it tends to magnify differences in style as well as points of focus.

From my end I was quite pleased with the class today. I believe that almost everyone participated actively - with the realization that some may have chosen to participate in an inactive way (which is not necessarily the same thing as being uninterested or withdrawn or asleep - but at times it is difficult to tell the difference).

I quite liked the anxiousness that was expressed in terms of carving out a spot to mull over the action of creativity as well as the execution of it. I do find it odd at an arts school that we don’t make more time for experimentation and reflection. I was also glad that we touched on a number of things Bob and I had listed in our conversation – some at our instigation, some by the students. I suspect that many of these ideas – such as art into life, divisions between categories, convergence of terms and ideas – or the combination of seeming contradictions, the nature of machines, the limits of learned processes, the pondering of the nature of art, the assumed divisions between organic and inorganic, and others I am forgetting to list – will become fundamentals of the generative topic as the course progresses. Since, in many ways, this course is an examination of the topic by way of the topic – a generative art course structured in a generative way.

I did become concerned at times about the wandering nature of the conversation. I know that our intent (and Bob may have a different take on this) was not to pre-program a direction or responses, but to see where the class would lead. Nevertheless I could easily see students frustrated by this. My take on Humanities classes is always that part of my job is to toss out a bunch of ideas - how they are assembled and what happens with them is up to the student. Students that choose to be engaged by this process most likely get more out of these classes than students that choose not to.

I realize that in handing out a project where the parameters have deliberately been precise and also vague leads to questions - "Can we do this?" "Are we allowed to do that?" Most education is structured along those lines. I am less interested in my permission and more interested in how the rules are interpreted - essentially by 20 different people. I expect consensus and I expect rupture - that is the fun part. So - basically - Bob and I already created our sound-producing machine by giving the students this set of instructions. What is left is to sit back and watch the results. I am anxiously awaiting the class on Thursday.

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